The attentional window for short-term memory might be smaller than previously thought. Chunking information is one key strategy that can be exapted to infotentional practice.
ScienceDaily, 28 November 2012
According to psychological lore, when it comes to items of information the mind can cope with before confusion sets in, the “magic” number is seven.
But a new analysis by a leading Australian psychiatrist challenges this long-held view, suggesting the number might actually be four.
In 1956, American psychologist George Miller published a paper in the influential journal Psychological Review arguing the mind could cope with a maximum of only seven chunks of information.
The paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two. Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information,” has since become one of the most highly cited psychology articles and has been judged by the Psychological Review as its most influential paper of all time.
But UNSW professor of psychiatry Gordon Parker says a re-analysis of the experiments used by Miller shows he missed the correct number by a wide mark.
Writing in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Scientia Professor Parker says a closer look at the evidence shows the human mind copes with a maximum of four ‘chunks’ of information, not seven.
“So to remember a seven numeral phone number, say 6458937, we need to break it into four chunks: 64. 58. 93. 7. Basically four is the limit to our perception.