One reason that studying memory and organisation may be interesting is because the area was neglected, up until the 1990’s, when psychologists became interested in how an ‘enormously important but complex facility operates in people’ after being stimulated by the attempts to provide information about computer systems and how information is organised.( R.Gross, Hodder and Sloughton)
One theory in relation to memory suggests that organisation may occur at two separate stages of memory. Meyer said ‘to remember is to have organised’ and suggested that organisation either occurs at storage or at retrieval.
Meyer suggested that at storage organisation serves to reduce the amount of material to be remembered and does this by grouping it hierarchically or by chunking it (putting it into chunks to remember).At retrieval he argued that organised items have greater uniqueness and therefore more retrieval routes assocciated with them.This suggests that organisation aids memory either by reducing the amount of information or by providing items with more reason to be remembered.
( Broadbent, D.E., Cooper, P.J. & Broadbent)
A key study into hierarchy and memory was conducted by Collins and Quillian 1969 which proposed the hierarchical network model. This model was concerned with how words are organised in relation to their semantic meanings.Semantic memory was portrayed as a network of words which are connected to other when there is a semantic similarity. The meaning of a word is said to be given by ‘pointers’ which basically point from the word out to the meaning.
For example, Collins and Quillian suggested that pointers could indicate properties. For example a ‘canary’ would have pointers to ‘can sing’. Other pointers may point to categories that a certain word belongs to. So a canary would have pointers to ‘bird’ (on a lower level) and to animal (on a higher level). The model said that if a person was given the sentence ‘A canary can sing’ and was asked to decide whether it is true or not they would only need to find the word canary and retrieve properties stored with that word.
To test this model Collins and Quillian did an experiment where subjects were presented with sentences and were told to judge whether true or false by pressing the correct button as quick as possible.The length of reaction time indicated the difficulty.They found that the time taken to decide that a statement was true or not increased as the number of levels the subject had to go through to verify it increased. Therefore it implies that semantic meaning is stored in a hierarchy to aid memory in terms of its organisation.(R.Gross, Hodder and Sloughton)
In 1953 Bousfield conducted a study where he asked subjects to learn 60 words that derived from 4 categories (animals, names, professions and vegetables), which the participants were not aware of. The categories had 15 examples which were all mixed up so did not appear to already be in a category. Bousfield found that when participants free recalled they tended to naturally cluster similar items, for example, if someone recalled ‘potato’ it was likely that other vegetables followed.
This concludes that although participants had not been told of the categories, they recalled in clusters and so therefore suggested that they tried to organise the data themselves and so proves in order to remember better the participants organised the data.(R.Gross, Hodder and Sloughton) Bower,(1969) investigated the effects of hierarchy in recall memory, and compared the results of these with those using word lists in a random order.The hierarchy provided a context for the words to be remembered by and recall was found to be up to three times better when word lists were organised .
The study used an independent groups design, with two groups of participants: a control group and an experimental group . The independent variable was a list of 112words: The control group was given an unstructured, randomised list, while the experimental group was given the same words organised into a hierarchicy. The recall performance (DV) was measured using this scale (correctly recalled word = 1, incorrect or no-recalled word = 0).
Bower found that the unorganised list gave a recall rate of 18% and particpants who used the organised list had a recall rate of 65%. Suggesting that organisation does aid memory recall.(Bower, G.H., Clark, M.C., Lesgold, A.M. & Winzenz, D) Aim: the aim of this replication of Bowers (1969) study is to test his findings (65% recall rate when given an organised list and 18% with and unorganised list) which will be conducted as a small scale version of the original experiment.
The experiment will be considered small scale as the number of words will be reduced to 40 compared to Bowers 112. The number of participants will only be around 30 in this replication. The reason that a small scale experiment is to be done is because it is an opportunity sample and is estimated that only around 30 students will be available within a class. The experiment aims to test the experiment using different words, countries, which are categorised into continents further catagorised into eastern and western parts of the world whereas Bower used minerals, a harder topic.
Directional Hypothesis: The directional hypothesis which was chosen was that partcipants will remember a greater number of words if they are presented in an organised way rather than if they are presented in a random list (an organised list will be made up of a heirarchy of words into sub categories and a random list will consist of all the words mixed up in list format) . The lists will be divided into 4 categories: Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.
There will be 10 words in each category and will be randomly mixed up by picking them out of a hat. The null hypothesis is whether the list is organised or not will not affect the number of words that the participant remembers and any difference is due to chance. The chosen hypothesis is one tailed and is used because Bowers findings concluded it to be true as there was a 65% recall rate for organised lists in comparison to just 18% recall rate for an unorganised list..