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What are the Important Levels of Memory Processing? – Explained!

January 15, 2019 0 Comment

1. POTATO “Is the word in capital letters?”

2. HORSE “Does the word rhyme with course?”

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3. TABLE “Does the word fit in the sentence, the man peeled the?”

Each question requires effort but differs from the others in an important way. Question 1 requi­res superficial structural encoding, as you only have to notice how the word looks. Question 2 re­quires a little more effort.

You must engage in phonological (also called phonemic) encoding by sounding out the word to yourself and then judg­ing whether it matches the sound of another word. Question 3 requires semantic encoding because you must pay attention to what the word means.

Like the three examples above, the words you are about to be presented with in this experiment will be followed by a question that requires structural, phonological, or semantic encoding. Unexpectedly, you will then be given a memory test in which you will be shown a list of words and asked to identify which words were presented earlier. Which group of words will you recognize most easily? Those processed structurally, phono- logically, or semantically?

According to the concept of levels of pro­cessing, the more deeply we process information, the better we will remember it. Thus you should best remember those words that you processed semantically.

Merely perceiving the structural properties of the words (e.g., uppercase versus lowercase) involves shallow processing, and phonemically encoding words is intermediate. Semantic encoding, however, involves the deepest processing because it requires us to focus on the meaning of information.

Although many experiments have replicated this finding, at times depth of processing can be difficult to measure. If some students prepare for an exam by creating hierarchical outlines while others create detailed flashcards, which method involves deeper processing?

If the first group performs better, should we assume that they processed the information more deeply? To do so, warns Alan Baddeley, is to fall into a trap of circular reasoning. Still, the levels-of-processing model has stimulated much research. There are situations where few would argue with at least a broad distinction between shallow and deep processing. Here is one of them.

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