Memory has been the focus of psychology research since the beginning of psychology. Investigators have focused on the structure of memory and factor that aid or inhibit the ability to store and retrieve information. Bower’s research (1972) found that that mental imagery of unrelated word pairs affected its retrieval. Short-term memory concerns information being encoded and held for several seconds or minutes for use straight away, or is instead prepared for permanent storage in long-term memory.
Long-term memory is concerned with items that have been retained over a long period of time, which can range widely; from several minutes to several years. The aim of my investigation is to find out whether people remember more word pairs by trying to make images of the word pairs rather than by repeating each word pair three times aloud, to store the information. The Atkinson and Schiffrin Model was a theory where there were three stages to memory. First, sensory, input went into the sensory memory; this input would go through to short-term memory. Then, only if this input were rehearsed, it would be encoded into long-term memory.
This theory was heavily criticised by many other psychologists for being too simple. Eysenck pointed out that not all factors could be explained by the Atkinson and Shiffrin Model. He said that any theory should be able to explain all known facts. Baddeley believed that short-term memory did not just hold information received from the sensory memory, rather that it was a mental working space in which we can keep information without rehearsal and using long term memory. He called this theory the Working Memory. Information in the working memory is held until sense can be made.
For example, when listening to a friend, we must hold information from the beginning of the sentence until the sentence has been completed so that we can make sense of the sentence as a whole. If Atkinson and Schiffrin were correct then we would have to rehearse each thing our friend said to us for it to make sense. In 1977, Craik showed that participants remembered far better when they were asked questions about themselves. This was because the material they were asked to recall had a semantic meaning to the individual. This is a similar effect to the effect of mental imagery on memory of material.
The Atkinson and Schiffrin model does not explain why when unrelated words are easily committed to memory through mental imagery. This is clearly shown in Bower’s experiment of 1972. Subjects were given a set of one hundred word cards with a pair of unrelated nouns, such as ‘dog’ – ‘hat’, written on them. The ‘imagery’ group was asked to form a mental image of the two words interacting with one another, i. e. to form the mental image of a dog wearing a hat. The control group was instructed to learn the word pairs by rehearsing them. Then both groups were shown the first word of each word pair and asked to recall the second word.
The imagery group recalled 80% of the pairs, whilst the other group only recalled 33%. This illustrated the influence of mental imagery on recall of material. This provides evidence to suggest that mental imagery helps in the encoding, storage and retrieval of information. Bower’s experiment can be used for the basis for my own memory experiment. The aim of this research is to see Bower’s study and investigate the effect of mental imagery and repetition on memory. Therefore my hypothesis is based on Bowers findings: that imagery will be a better form of memorization then rehearsal as that is what bower found.