George Miller 's Magical Number 7 Essay

838 Words Nov 17th, 2015 4 Pages
George Miller’s magical number 7, plus or minus two, helps confirm the capacity of short term memory (Miller, 1956). Most people 18 and over can hold 5 to 9 items in their short term memory (Miller, 1956). Miller believed that short term memory could only hold his magic number because of the limited “slots” in which memory could be placed in the brain. Miller reached this conclusion by getting the participants of the initial study to listen to a number of tones that were different by pitch. Every sound was produced solely, and the participant was asked to match each sound corresponding to the other tones that they had already heard. This was done by giving each sound a number. When the experiment ran on through around 6 or 7 tones, the participants started to blend the numbers and sounds (Miller, 1956). Miller later repeated this study with words and numbers. Through these studies, his findings backed the magic number theory.
Short term memory duration is about 18 to 20 seconds, but it can be much shorter if rehearsal is prevented (Peterson & Peterson, 1959). Peterson and Peterson found that if, repeated verbally, items can be stored more efficiently through the process known as rehearsal. Going back to the phone number example used previously, without repeating the number until it has processed to long term memory, the information will be forgotten. The participants in Peterson and Peterson’s study were given 3 random letters. An example of this is BGN. They were then told…

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