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Craik & Lockhart (1972) Levels of Processing Theory

Traditional theories of memory segmented human memory into different stores.

Craik & Lockhart (1972) Levels of Processing Theory

Introducing the Levels of Processing Theory

Traditional theories of memory segmented human memory into different stores – for example, the multi-store model with sensory, short-term and long-term stores. Craik & Lockhart's Levels of Processing theory opposes this, suggesting that our ability to recall information is dependent not upon which store it is in, but to what extent we have "processed" or "rehearsed" a piece of information.

Memory Theories

An example of different levels of processing would be when trying to remember someone's name. Repeating the name Adam, for example, in one's mind would be an example of a shallow level of processing (maintenance rehearsal), while deeper, more effective Elaborative Rehearsal would be thinking how the name matches with the person.

Types of Memory Rehearsal
Maintenance Rehearsal

This involves repeating a piece of information in one's mind over and over again. However, it is not thought to be as effective as a method of remembering as Elaborative Rehearsal, as information is not processed on a deep level.

Elaborative Rehearsal

This deeper level of processing involves understanding and making sense of a piece of information, and in doing so, rehearsing it for what is thought to be a more effective way of remembering.

Evaluation of the Levels of Processing Theory

Peterson and Peterson were careful to eliminate factors other than time that might affect recall:

An Interference task reduced the chances of rehearsal before recall.

In addition to this trigrams were used to eliminate the attached meaning that might be used to remember, for example, words, better.

Lacks ecological validity - how often is a person needed to remember trigrams in reality?

See Also

Craik & Tulving (1975)

  1. Craik, F.I.M. and Lockhart, R.S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. 11(6). 671-84.
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