The second way is by recalling the elaborations commited to memory. The subject might not actually remember the proposition, but would be able to imply what it might be.
Another manipulation of the experiment was whether the subjects knew the true purpose of the experiment. Half of each group were told the true nature of the experiment. These people were of the intentional-learning condition. The others who did not know, were the incidental-learning condition. Thus, there were four groups in total. The groups then had to recall the 24 words.
1. It increases the redundancy of interconnections among the to-be-remembered information.
2. It imposes an organisation on the information that can be used to guide the retrieval process.
3. It can increase the number of contextual elements that will overlap between study and test.
Imagine this sentence had to be stored in memory by a person:
1. The doctor hated the lawyer.
Fig. 7.1a shows how a person might memorise the above sentence in network form, but is unlikely to just store this piece of information to memory. Fig. 7.1b is a more realistic example of what a person thinks about when reading the sentence above. He /she has elaborated his /her mind in the detailed diagram, than that of Fig 7.1a, with new information. The following new information might also be stored in memory:
2. The subject studied this sentence in the psychology laboratory one dreary
3. The lawyer had sued the doctor for malpractice.
4. The malpractice suit was the source of the doctor's hatred.
5. The sentence is unpleasant.
A piece of information known to the person in memory is:
6. Lawyers sue doctors for malpractice.
Fig. 7.1b is known as elaborated structures. This chapter is based upon research into this area.
A better memory can be an expectation from a person when using elaborations. There are two ways that this is accomplished. Firstly, redundant retrieval routes are provided for recall. Taking Fig. 7.1a & b as examples. If the doctor node at X is weak for recall of proposition node 1, and the person had Fig. 7.1a only in memory. Then when the word 'doctor' is given to the person, he /she would be unable to remember proposition node 1. However, the second diagram provides alternative routes to get to proposition node 1. By recalling sentences 3 and 4, a link is provided to proposition node 1. Secondly, if the person cannot recall the proposition node 1 after so many attempts then this leads to them failing.
However, recalling the elaborations can help the person imply proposition node 1, without actually remembering the proposition itself. The two ways mentioned before both work because the more elaborations there are, the more redundancy when data is put into memory. As more data is stored in memory then the more routes of recall and retrieval are avaliable as a basis for implying the propositioned information.
Elaborateness of Processing
Having elaborations gives rise to better memory, hence Depth of Processing. Depth refers to the amount of information the subject gets through. However, it is better to think of the number of elaborations learnt. Thus, elaborateness of processing is used.
Bobrow & Bower (1969) used a memory test on subject-verb-object sentences. The subjects were given sentences to view by the experimenters, and another set of senetences which the subject themselves had to generate, linking the subject and object nouns. The subjects then had to recall the subject noun having been given the object noun. Results showed that the subjects had to think harder when creating their own sentences, hence their elaborations. A sentence continuation and visualisation techniques can be used for a person to think deeply and more elaborately.
Stein & Bransford (1979) provided subjects with 10 sentences. There were 4 different studies conducted. The first was to just study the sentences given. The second study was for the subject to create elaborations. The third and fourth studies were for the subject to be given elaborations of detailed and non-detailed varieties, in the form of continued sentences. Subjects then had to study the sentences and when given a sentence had to recall the missing adjective. Out of the ten adjectives 7.8 from detailed elaboration provided came out top.
Whatever the elaborations constructed, either by the subject or the experimeter, dertermines whether it restricts the information to-be-remebered.
Hyde & Jenkins (1973) produced an experiment that involved two sets of subjects receiving the same set of 24 words at 3 sec intervals. A group of subjects had to determine whether there was the letters e or g . The other group had to determine the pleasantness of the words. These tests are known as orienting tasks. A lot of thought process had to be done with the pleasantness test over the letter-checking. In addition, half the subjects in each group being told the purpose of the experiment, and the others assumed that they had to rate the words or check for letters. These were known as intentional-learning and incidental-learning respectively. Then the subjects had to try and remember as many words as possible.
Incidental versus Intentional Learning
It doesn't matter whether somebody chooses to learn or not, but how someone processes information while presenting. The memory performs the same in both incidental and intentional learning based upon a person doing the same task. People have better memories when they intend to learn because they playback information in memory, and use elaborative processing. As experiments cannot control processing results in experiments of this nature are different.
There has been a bit of confusion between meaningful processing and elaborate processing. Salmecka and Graf suggest that words that rhyme improve memory than just reading them. Nelson believes phonemic processing improves memory instead of processing in semantics. Kolers argues that subjects remembered sentences when printed upside-down than those printed normally, this is due to extra work in memory to identify the font style. This leads to better memory. Research in elaborative processing has been done using text material by Frase also.
Inferential Reconstruction in Recall
Let us discuss the following sentence of a subject's memory.
1. The doctor hated the lawyer.
Elaborations improve memory for this sentence by increasing the redundancy of its encoding. Redundancy is not created by the subject's simply making multiple copies of the sentence but also storing of additional propositions that weakly or strongly imply the target sentence. For example, subjects may come up with the following propositions:
2. The lawyer sued the doctor for malpractice.
3. The doctor cursed the lawyer in court.
4. The doctor glared at the lawyer.
5. The lawyer assailed the doctor with a stream of questions.
Suppose subjects are no longer able to remember the studied sentence at test but are able to recall one of their elaborations, say,
2. The lawyer sued the doctor for malpractice.
4. The doctor flared at the lawyer.
The subject might well infer that the doctor hated the lawyer but this inference need not be true, the truth behind the sentence might not be what it seems. When people do try to recall by inference, there is always the possibilty that their recall will be in error.
A couple of techniques are used to yield the evidence that inferences increase in frequency with delay. Both Dooling, Christiaansen, and Spiro have found the evidence that with delay subject's memory for the studied passage deteriorates and they will have to do more reconstruction which will lead to more inferential errors.
We discussed about people making errors when they recalled or recognised facts that were not explicitly presented. However, this recall would not be regarded as errors but as intelligent inferences. Reder has argued that much of recall in real life involves plausible inference rather than exact recall.
Reder has demonstrated that subjects will display very different behaviour depending on whether they are asked to engage in exact retrieval or plausible retrieval.
Reder carried out an experiment based on judgement time for subjects in the two conditions, exact versus plausible. The subjects had to study a story and then judge three sentences, the first sentence had been studied, the second sentence had not been studied but is plausible, and the third sentence was neither studied or plausible. The test was carried out immediately after the subjects had studied the story, either 20 minutes, or 2 days later.
The results show that subjects get slower with delay in the exact condition and get faster in the plausible condition. They start out slower in the plausible condition than in the exact condition, but this is reversed after 2 days. Reder argues that subjects get worse in the exact condition because the exact traces are getting weak. Subjects get faster in the plausible condition with delay because they no longer try to use inefficient retrieval, but use plausibility which is not dependent on any particular trace and is similarly not vulnerable to forgetting.
The Interaction Elaboration and Inferential Reconstruction Study
We have discussed that inferential process of subjects is a process of elaborating a memory at study and reconstruct memory at test. It is suggested the more a subject embellished a sentence at study, the more reconstruction would be possible at test. Using elaborations at study to improve memory performance, it is often they have to go from these elaborations to inferences about what was studied. Elaborative processing thus, leads to both an improvement in memory for what was studied and an increase in the number of inferences recalled.
An experiment by Owens, Bower, and Black confirms that subjects in the theme condition make many more theme-related elaborations of the story than subjects in the neutral condition.
They had two groups of subjects study the story. The only difference between the groups was that the theme group read an additional piece of information at the beginning.
When subjects were asked to recall the story after studying it. Subjects in the theme condition introduced a great many more inferences that had not actually been studied. Many more inferences were added in recall for the theme condition than for the neutral condition. Subjects in the theme condition also remembered more of the propositions they had actually studied because of the additional elaborations made by subjects in the theme condition, they may be able to recall more of the story.
However, it is wrong to characterise the intruded inferences as mistakes in the theme condition as subjects were perfectly right to make theses inferences and to recall them. For example, recalling information in an exam, such inferences would be treated as facts that were actually studied.
Use of Schemas
Schemas are organised set of facts, it seems that schemas are a major mechanism for reconstructing memory.
A story called "The War of the Ghosts", was used by Bartlett and has obtained some seeking evidence for the role of schemas in memory. Bartlett was interested in how subjects would remember a story that fit in so poorly with their cultural schemas. He had his subjects read the story and recall the story after various delays, from immediately after study to years later.
The subjects showed clear distortions in their memory for the story, these distortions appeared to grow with time. Subjects omitted much of the story, changed many of the facts, and imported new information. The subjects were distorting the story to fit in with their own cultural stereotypes. This concludes that when subjects read a story that does not fit with their own schemas, they will exhibit a powerful tendency to distort the story to make it fit.
Organisation and Recall
Hierarchical Structures and Other Organisations
There are several proved methods of improving the human memory to become more efficient and better at recalling information or events. This is achieved by organising the information in such a way that it becomes easier to recall it. The key behind the various techniques is based on organisation and structure. Various demonstrations have successfully been tried where groups of people using memory recall techniques recalled more information than groups which didn't use any techniques for recall.
Demo 1: Hierarchical Organisation
This is an experiment by Bower, Clark, Lesgold, and Winzenz (1969).
An organised group managed to recall twice as much words which they had learnt using a hierarchical structure technique, than an unorganised group who also had to learn the same words without using any technique. The reason why the technique worked for the organised group is that they were forming a memory network while studying the words and placed them in some form of order or category. This technique allowed the organised group to search for information more efficiently compared to the unorganised group who did not have any structure to the way they memorised the information.
Demo 2: Uncatergorised Organisation
This is an experiment by Bower and Clark (1969).
This time the organised group had to memorise 10 unrelated nouns by constructing a narrative story around the nouns. The unorganised group were just given nouns with no instructions as to how to memorise them. The experiment was repeated 12 times and at the end of the test the organised group recalled 94% of the nouns while the unorganised group only managed to recall 14% of the nouns.
Demo 3: Mnemonic Technique
This is an experiment that has been credited to Simonides, a greek poet.
Another very old technique for memory recall improvement is the method of loci. This is an orderly arrangement of locations or paths into which objects can be placed to be remembered. To remember a series of objects you mentally walk through the location associating the objects within the route as you go along. Therefore by following the mental path at time of recall, you will pass all the locations for which items were associated. This is effective because it imposes organisation on otherwise unorganised information and also by generating connections between the locations and the items allows for information to be processed elaboratively.
The Effects of Encoding Context
Physical and Emotional Context
The ability to remember the exact context within which information was studied is believed to help recall the information more efficiently. Therefore, if the information was studied on a rainy day, for example, then during recall the subject is more likely to recall the information better if the atmosphere within which it was studied could be recreated mentally. Context therefore is believed to influence memory. These context effects are often referred to as encoding effects because the context is affecting what is encoded into the memory.
Demo 4: Physical Context
This is an experiment by Godeen and Baddeley (1975) to show that recall is better if the context at test is the same as the context at study.
With this experiment, the subjects being tested on had to learn a list of 40 unrelated words on shore or 20 feet under the sea. The subjects were then asked to recall the words in either the same or different environment. The test proved that memory was more efficient at recall when it was in the same context in which it was studied.
Demo 5: Emotional Context
This is an experiment by Bower, Monteiro, and Gilligan (1978) to show that emotional context can also have the same effects as the phsyical context on memory recall.
With this experiment the people being tested had to learn two lists of words. For one list they hypnotically induced a positive state by having the people recall a pleasant memory from their past and for the other list they hypnotically induced a negative state by having them recall an unpleasant memory from their past. A later test of recall in either a positive or negative emotional state, results were better achieved when the emotional state at test matched the emotional state at study.
It seems that people find it easier to recall information if they go back to the same emotional and physical state they were in when they learned the information. This is generally known as state-dependent learning.
The way in which people recall information is not always effected by the emotional and physical state they were in when they learned the information. There is evidence to suggest that when people memorise to-be-learned material, they can be heavily dependent on the context of other to-be-learned material within which it is embedded.
In a series of experiments, (e.g., Tulving & Thomson, 1973; Watkins & Tulving, 1975), it has been dramatically illustrated how memory for a word can depend on how well the test context matches the original study at test.
In an experiment by Watkins and Tulving (1975), subjects had to learn pairs of words such as train - black. They were told that they were only responsible for the second word, this is referred to as the to-be-remembered word, and the first word as the context. Subjects were then given words such as white and asked to generate four free associates to the word. For example, snow, black, wool, and pure.
Subject were asked to recall the to-be-remebered words in two types of test. First, in a multiple choice type test where they were forced to indicate a choice from their free associates, even if they thought they had not not studied any of the words. Secondly, subjects were presented with the original context words and asked to recall the to-be-recalled words. This test proved that recalling an item at test depends on the simliarity of its encoding at test and its original encoding at study.
Encoding Variability and the Spacing Effect
When facts are memorised on several occasions, the way in which it is encoded will be slightly different on each occasion. An important factor determining the difference among the various encodings depends on the difference among the learning contexts on each occasion. An obvious factor is the spacing over time of these contexts.
In an experiment by Madigan (1969), subjects were presented with 48 words at the rate of 1.5 sec per word. Some words were presented once and others twice. After study, subjects were asked to recall as many words as they could. This experiment illustrated the importance of spacing. Memory improves with the increase in lag between study episodes, although the advantage dimishes as the spacing is increased. This result is known as the spacing effect, subjects may do poorly at short lags simply because of inattention.
An important factor in the lag effect is encoding variability due to the change of context. There is a greater chance that the study context will overlap with the test context if the information is studied again along time after the first time.
In another experiment by Madigan (1969), subjects were presented with pairs of words but were told that they were only responsible for remembering the second word, the first just provided context. Some target words were presented twice and some only once. When items were repeated they occurred each time either with the same context word or with different context words. For example, chill and fever, or chill and snow. In the different condition it might occur first time with fever and second time with snow. In the same condition it would occur both times with fever. Madigan found that subjects performed better in the different condition.
This experiment demonstrated the importance of encoding varaibility to the spacing effect. The encoding variability analysis of the spacing effect does not imply that spaced study and variable encoding will always result in superior memory. What is really important is that the context in which the material is studied is similar with the context in which the material is tested
When students are not sure how the material is to be tested, they should study in a variety of contexts. However, when students know how the context in which they are to be tested, the ideal study location would be the location in which the test is to be administered.
This chapter indicates that eloborative processing is more accurate than simplied conceptions. The factors which influence the way subjects elaborate the information they study are:
1. Connections to prior knowledge.
2. Imaginings and inferences about the material.
3. Features from the current context.
Elaborateness of processing improves the memory by:
1. Increasing the redundancy of interconnections among the to-be-remembered information.
2. Imposing an organisation on the information that can be used to guide the retrieval process.
3. Increasing the number of contextual elements that will overlap between study and test.
The PQ4R Method
There is a study technique used by college study-skills departments to improve students' memory for text material. This technique is called the PQ4R method, derives it name from the six phases it advocates for studying a chapter in a textbook:
1. Preview. Survey the chapter to determine the general topics being discussed. Identify the sections to be read as units. Apply the next four steps to each section.
2. Questions. Make up questions about the section. Often, simply transforming section headings results in adequate questions. For example, a section heading might be Encoding Variability, resulting in such questions as "What is encoding variability?" and "What are the effects of encoding variability?".
3. Read. Read the section carefully, trying to answer the questions you have made up about it.
4. Reflect. Reflect on the test as you are reading it, trying to understand it, to think of examples, and to relate the material to prior knowledge.
5. Recite. After finishing a section, try to recall the information contained in it. Try answering the questions you made up for the section. If you cannot recall enough, reread the portions you had trouble remembering.
6. Review. After you have finished the chapter, go through it mentally, recalling its main points. Again try answering the questions you made up.
By passing through all the text material, serves as spaced study. This make the student more aware of the way the material is organised. The PQ4R method helps organisation lead to good memory, especially on free-recall-type tests.
The PQ4R technique encourages deeper or more elaborative processing of text material by using the question-generation and question-answering features.
The distinction between test items related to the study questions and those not related is important. Study questions related to test questions is expected to aid memory more effectively than unrelated ones. Students who generate and elaborate their questions are more likely to do well when tested.
Rothkopf (1966), compared the benefit of reading a text with questions in mind and the benefit of considering a set of questions after reading the text, which enabled subjects to review the text. The experimenal group whose questions reviewed the text answered correctly 72% of the relevant items, 42% of the irrelevant items. Therefore, it seems that reviewing the text with questions is more generally beneficial.
Memory for a text can be improved if you read the test in multiple passes asking yourself questions as you do.
Last Change Wed, Jan 29, 1997