Depth of processing psychology definition

Deborah C. Escalante

Levels of Processing

Levels of Processing

By Dr. Saul McLeod, published 2007

The levels of processing model (Craik & Lockhart, 1972) focuses on the depth of processing involved in memory, and predicts the deeper information is processed, the longer a memory trace will last.

Craik defined depth as:

“the meaningfulness extracted from the stimulus rather than in terms of the number of analyses performed upon it.” (1973, p. 48)

Unlike the multi-store model it is a non-structured approach. The basic idea is that memory is really just what happens as a result of processing information.

Memory is just a by-product of the depth of processing of information, and there is no clear distinction between short term and long term memory.

Therefore, instead of concentrating on the stores/structures involved (i.e. short term memory & long term memory), this theory concentrates on the processes involved in memory.

We can process information in 3 ways:

Shallow Processing

– This takes two forms

1. Structural processing (appearance) which is when we encode only the physical qualities of something.  E.g. the typeface of a word or how the letters look.

2. Phonemic processing – which is when we encode its sound.

Shallow processing only involves maintenance rehearsal (repetition to help us hold something in the STM) and leads to fairly short-term retention of information. 

This is the only type of rehearsal to take place within the multi-store model.

Deep Processing

– This takes two forms

3. Semantic processing, which happens when we encode the meaning of a word and relate it to similar words with similar meaning.

Deep processing involves elaboration rehearsal which involves a more meaningful analysis (e.g. images, thinking, associations etc.) of information and leads to better recall.

For example, giving words a meaning or linking them with previous knowledge.

Summary

Levels of processing: The idea that the way information is encoded affects how well it is remembered.  The deeper the level of processing, the easier the information is to recall.

levels of processing memory model

Key Study: Craik and Tulving (1975)

Aim

To investigate how deep and shallow processing affects memory recall.

To investigate how deep and shallow processing affects memory recall.

Method

Participants were presented with a series of 60 words about which they had to answer one of three questions.  Some questions required the participants to process the word in a deep way (e.g. semantic) and others in a shallow way (e.g. structural and phonemic). For example:

Participants were presented with a series of 60 words about which they had to answer one of three questions. Some questions required the participants to process the word in a deep way (e.g. semantic) and others in a shallow way (e.g. structural and phonemic). For example:

  • Structural / visual processing: ‘Is the word in capital letters or small letters?

  • Phonemic / auditory processing: ‘Does the word rhyme with . . .?’

  • Semantic processing: ‘Does the word go in this sentence . . . . ?

Participants were then given a long list of 180 words into which the original words had been mixed. They were asked to pick out the original words.

Results

Participants recalled more words that were semantically processed compared to phonemically and visually processed words.

Participants recalled more words that were semantically processed compared to phonemically and visually processed words.

Conclusion

Semantically processed words involve elaboration rehearsal and deep processing which results in more accurate recall.  Phonemic and visually processed words involve shallow processing and less accurate recall.

Semantically processed words involve elaboration rehearsal and deep processing which results in more accurate recall. Phonemic and visually processed words involve shallow processing and less accurate recall.

Real Life Applications

This explanation of memory is useful in everyday life because it highlights the way in which elaboration, which requires deeper processing of information, can aid memory. Three examples of this are.

Reworking – putting information in your own words or talking about it with someone else.

Method of loci – when trying to remember a list of items, linking each with a familiar place or route.

Imagery – by creating an image of something you want to remember, you elaborate on it and encode it visually (i.e. a mind map).

The above examples could all be used to revise psychology using semantic processing (e.g. explaining memory models to your mum, using mind maps etc.) and should result in deeper processing through using elaboration rehearsal

BACA JUGA:   How does a psychoanalytic psychologist explain behavior

Consequently more information will be remembered (and recalled) and better exam results should be achieved.

Critical Evaluation

Strengths

The theory is an improvement on Atkinson & Shiffrin’s account of transfer from STM to LTM. For example, elaboration rehearsal leads to recall of information than just maintenance rehearsal.

The levels of processing model changed the direction of memory research. It showed that encoding was not a simple, straightforward process. This widened the focus from seeing long-term memory as a simple storage unit to seeing it as a complex processing system.

Craik and Lockhart’s ideas led to hundreds of experiments, most of which confirmed the superiourity of ‘deep’ semantic processing for remembering information. It explains why we remember some things much better and for much longer than others.

This explanation of memory is useful in everyday life because it highlights the way in which elaboration, which requires deeper processing of information, can aid memory.

Weaknesses

Despite these strengths, there are a number of criticisms of the levels of processing theory:

• It does not explain how the deeper processing results in better memories.

• Deeper processing takes more effort than shallow processing and it could be this, rather than the depth of processing that makes it more likely people will remember something.

• The concept of depth is vague and cannot be observed. Therefore, it cannot be objectively measured.

Eysenck (1990) claims that the levels of processing theory describes rather than explains. Craik and Lockhart (1972) argued that deep processing leads to better long-term memory than shallow processing. However, they failed to provide a detailed account of why deep processing is so effective.

However, recent studies have clarified this point – it appears that deeper coding produces better retention because it is more elaborate. Elaborative encoding enriches the memory representation of an item by activating many aspects of its meaning and linking it into the pre-existing network of semantic associations.

Later research indicated that processing is more complex and varied than the levels of processing theory suggests. In other words, there is more to processing than depth and elaboration.

For example, research by Bransford et al. (1979) indicated that a sentence such as, ‘A mosquito is like a doctor because both draw blood’ is more likely to be recalled than the more elaborated sentence, ‘A mosquito is like a racoon because they both have head, legs and jaws’. It appears that it is the distinctiveness of the first sentence which makes it easier to remember – it’s unusual to compare a doctor to a mosquito. As a result, the sentence stands out and is more easily recalled.

Another problem is that participants typically spend a longer time processing the deeper or more difficult tasks. So, it could be that the results are partly due to more time being spent on the material. The type of processing, the amount of effort & the length of time spent on processing tend to be confounded. Deeper processing goes with more effort and more time, so it is difficult to know which factor influences the results.

The ideas of ‘depth’ and ‘elaboration’ are vague and ill defined (Eysenck, 1978).  As a result, they are difficult to measure. Indeed, there is no independent way of measuring the depth of processing.  This can lead to a circular argument – it is predicted that deeply processed information will be remembered better, but the measure of depth of processing is how well the information is remembered.

The levels of processing theory focuses on the processes involved in memory, and thus ignores the structures. There is evidence to support the idea of memory structures such as STM and LTM as the Multi-Store Model proposed (e.g. H.M., serial position effect etc.). Therefore, memory is more complex than described by the LOP theory.

How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2007, December 14). Levels of processing. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/levelsofprocessing.html

APA Style References

Bransford, J. D., Franks, J. J., Morris, C.D., & Stein, B.S.(1979). Some general constraints on learning and memory research. In L.S. Cermak & F.I.M. Craik(Eds.), Levels of processing in human memory (pp.331–354). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum AssociatesInc.

Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal behavior, 11, 671-684.

Craik, F.I.M., & Tulving, E. (1975). Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104, 268-294.

Eysenck, M. W. & Keane, M. T. (1990). Cognitive psychology: a student’s handbook, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd., Hove, UK.

How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2007, December 14). Levels of processing. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/levelsofprocessing.html

BACA JUGA:   How to reduce anxiety or stress

Home

|

About Us

|

Privacy Policy

|

Advertise

|

Contact Us
Back to top

Simply Psychology’s content is for informational and educational purposes only. Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

© Simply Scholar Ltd – All rights reserved

Why are some memories more significant than others? This is a big question in the world of psychology and neuroscience. Understanding the way that we process and store memories could reveal important answers about how the brain works, how we form our perception of the world, and how to create a better life for ourselves. But the answers aren’t so simple. Take a look at three different theories:

All of these theories attempt to explain why we remember certain pieces of information and why other information fades away. They are slightly different, and none of them has been deemed the one true explanation of how memory works. For now, let’s dive into Craik and Lockhart’s Levels of Processing Theory.

What Is Craik and Lockhart’s Levels of Processing Theory?

This theory of memory uses a pyramid to show the “hierarchy” of different levels of processing, from shallow to deep. The shallow processes, including structural processes, are least likely to be remembered long-term, while the deepest processes are more likely to “stick.”

Structural Processing

Structural processing occurs when we encode the physical appearance of something. For example, we may notice the color of a written word or whether or not it’s in all capitals. Structural processing (other known as orthographic or visual processing) may include taking a stimulus’ color, size, shape, or physical form.

This type of processing doesn’t require too much deep thought. We simply take the stimulus for what it is. It requires maintenance rehearsal, or repetition, in order to stick in our short-term memory. Maintenance rehearsal doesn’t stick as effectively as elaboration rehearsal, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Phonemic Processing

Phonemic processing is a step higher than structural processing but is still a shallow form of processing information. It occurs when we take in sounds.

Let’s say you are looking at a list of words: play, bottle, door, and chair. I ask you which of these words has two syllables. Or I ask you which one rhymes with “hair.” In order to answer the question correctly, you will have to sound out each of the words in your head and count syllables or compare it to the sound of the word “hair.”

Although phonemic processing is still considered a more shallow form of processing, it often has a higher rate of recall than visual processing. Maintenance rehearsal is also required for the stimuli to stick in your short-term or long-term memory.

Semantic Processing (Deep Processing)

The deepest form of processing is semantic processing. This involves processing information about the meaning of the word.

If structural processing encodes the font color of the word “hair” and phonemic processing encodes the sound of the word, semantic processing encodes what hair is, how it relates to other words around it, etc. Because semantic processing goes deeper than physical appearance or auditory information, we encode it in a different. It involves elaboration rehearsal. During elaboration rehearsal, we may contemplate how the stimuli fit into our everyday lives, at the task at hand, etc.

This more in-depth interaction with the stimuli makes it easier to recall them later.

Factors That Influence Memory Recall

There is more to memory than these processes. Other factors, or modifiers, modify how information fits into the Levels of Processing model and how easily we can recall that information. These modifiers include:

  • Familiarity
  • Transfer-appropriate processing
  • The self-reference effect

Familiarity

If information fits in neatly with other long-term memories, it is more likely to be stored and recalled with ease. Let’s say you witness an incident in your family that has happened many times before. Because you already have stored memories with previous incidents, your new memory fits neatly among those memories.

Transfer-appropriate processing

Memories of spoken words or written words go through slightly different processes. They require the work of different sensory inputs (auditory vs. visual.) Studies have found that memories are more easily recalled when they are in the same state that they have been collected or encoded. For example, you are more likely to recall visual information if you first encountered that information visually.

This ability to recall information in the state it was first presented to you is a form of state-dependent memory. Studies have shown that the state we are in when we receive information can also make an impact on how we recall that information. A classic example of state-dependent memory is being tipsy and being able to recall information that you received while tipsy! (This is not a recommendation to have a few beers while you study.)

The Self-Reference Effect

When we work with information and relate it beyond the way it is presented, we can recall it more effectively. This is what the Levels of Processing Theory is all about. Working with information and relating it to ourselves is even more effective. This isn’t always easy to do. Not all information relates back to our personal lives or how we view ourselves as people. But if you can try to relate information back to yourself, you are more likely to recall that information later.

BACA JUGA:   Psychiatrists and psychologists label behavior as disordered when it is quizlet

When Was the Levels of Processing Theory Developed?

Craik and Lockhart developed their model in 1972. Three years later, they developed a study that would test out this theory. Their study helped to prove that their hypothesis could be right and that our memory recall depends on how we interact with information.

Craik and Lockhart’s Experiment

Do we recall words better when we contemplate their meaning, rather than just take in the physical and auditory properties of the word?

The psychologists gave participants a series of 60 words. With each word, they asked one question that would involve structural, phenomic, or semantic processing. They might ask, “Is the word in capital letters or small letters?” or “Does the word make sense in this sentence?”

Later, the participants were given a list of 180 words. They were asked whether or not each word was one of the 60 words from earlier.

What words were participants more likely to remember? You guessed. They were more likely to remember the words in which they answered questions involving semantic processing. They were least likely to remember the words in which they answered questions involving structural processing.

How Do the Levels of Processing Theory Compare To Other Models?

Timeline

All three models mentioned at the beginning of this page came out around the same time. Atkinson and Shiffrin first published their Multi-Store Model of Memory in 1968. Craik and Lockhart’s Levels of Processing Theory was developed as a response to this theory and was introduced to the world of psychology in 1972. Baddley and Hitch also developed a response to the Multi-Store Model of Memory in 1974.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Levels of Processing Theory

Remember, this is just one model of memory. When compared to the Multi-Store Model of Memory, for example, it has some good points and some drawbacks.

One strength is the presence of elaboration rehearsal. The Atkinson-Shiffrin model only involves maintenance rehearsal or repetition. The Levels of Processing Theory shows the importance of elaborating on a word and “playing with it” more than just looking at it or hearing it. By putting the word into context, it’s easier to store in long-term memory.

Another advantage of this model is that it explains why some stimuli are easier to remember than others. Some other models leave psychologists with questions about why some things are more likely to be recalled.

Criticisms of the Levels of Processing Theory

No theory is perfect. We still have many questions about memory. The Levels of Processing Theory attempts to answer some of these questions, but other questions are still left unanswered.

When it comes to studying the levels of processing theory, it’s not exactly easy to get an exact measurement of the depth of these processes. In 1973, Craik defined depth as “the meaningfulness extracted from the stimulus rather than in terms of the number of analyses performed upon it.” But how do you know a word is more meaningful than another word? How can you measure that on a scale? How does this play into tapping into the levels of processing theory in the classroom or while you’re studying?

Other critiques of this model say that there isn’t much focus on retrieval strategies. Could it be the way we recall words, rather than how we process them, that makes a difference? Could it be both?

How to Use Levels of Processing Theory to Remember More Information

The Levels of Processing Theory are often painted as a vague description of how we process information, but it still provides useful insight into effective study strategies.

Let’s say you have to memorize a list of terms for a test. It may be helpful to repeat the words over and over again until the word sticks. At least, that’s what the Multi-Store Model of Memory might suggest. Or, you could spend that time putting the definitions into your own words. This may be a more effective way to make these words stick.

Example of Using Models of Memory to Store Information

As you’re studying, try both and see what works best for you. Here’s what that might look like:

You’re trying to memorize important dates in history. One of these dates is when Columbus arrived in the Americas. Next, you want to remember when the Revolutionary War began and ended. And you also want to memorize when World War I began and ended. There are three ways that you can approach these dates.

Let’s start with the Revolutionary War. You can simply write down “1775-1783” on a few Post-it notes and place them around your house. You will see the dates throughout the day, over and over again. This repetition should, according to the Multi-Store Model of Memory, make the information stick.

Or, you can take some time to write down the dates of World War I (1914-1918) and write about that time frame. You may notice that the war lasted for four years. World War I took place right before the 1920s began and two years after the Titanic sank. Maybe your grandparents were born around that time. It doesn’t matter what content you use to put 1914-1918 into context, it just matters that this content helps you see the dates of World War I in a new way.

Finally, you probably know that Columbus arrived in the Americas because “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Rhymes, acronyms, and other memory tricks are easy to repeat and put the information in a different context.

Try all of these methods out the next time you’re studying for a test. What works best? How quickly do you find that you remember the information you need to know?

Also Read

Bagikan: