10 Influential Memory Theories & Studies in Psychology


Memory can be defined as a faculty of the brain. This faculty performs the tasks of encoding, storing, and decoding all sorts of new information that an individual might encounter throughout his or her life. Memory is one of the most researched and one of the most important faculties that an individual must possess. It is only due to the storing of information in memory that the future actions or behavioral patterns of an individual must depend. There are also a number of different types of memories like sensory memory, short term memory, and long term memory. Sensory memory stores all sorts of sensory information which might be processed in even less than a second after any item or object is perceived. On the other hand, short term memory is also known as working memory and this memory allows an individual to recall information over a period of several seconds to a few minutes without any kind of rehearsal. And long term memory can be defined as the type of memory which has the capacity to store large amounts of information for potentially unlimited duration. There are a number of theories of memories discussed in the various studies of psychology. But in this academic writing piece, readers will be able to learn about the most influential 10 memory theories. And those influential 10 memory theories are mentioned below.

Multi-Store Model
This theory was given by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in the year 1968. According to them, there are three different states of memory in which any piece of information might exist. Those three states of memory are sensory memory, short term memory, and long term memory. The information gets passed on from one memory state to the next as the individual continues to rehearse that information. However, if an individual does not pay attention to that information then it can eventually fade away. It is further stated in this theory that, information enters through the senses and reaches the sensory memory state. If an individual pays attention to that information then it gets passed on to the short term memory state. After that, an individual can continue rehearsing that information which would result in that information reaching the long term memory state.

Levels of Processing Model
This is the second memory theory which is also discussed in different studies of psychology. This model of memory was given by Fergus Craik and Robert Lockhart. This model was proposed in response to the multi-store model in 1972. According to this model, memory does not exist in three different states but instead, the strength of the memory depends upon the quality of processing or the amount of rehearsal. There are also two different types of processing which can take place. The two types of processing are mentioned below.

  • Shallow Processing: In this type of processing, an individual only considers the appearance or sound of something. This often leads to an individual forgetting about the stimulus.
  • Deep or Semantic Processing: This type of processing consists of elaborative rehearsal which means that an individual focuses on the stimulus for a longer duration of time. It is more likely for an individual to remember information in this condition.

There are also many studies of psychology which back up this model.

Working Memory Model
This model was given by Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch in the year 1974. According to them, the existing notions of short term memory were overly simplistic. Hence, they replaced those notions with a working memory model. Visuo-spatial sketchpad and an articulate phonological loop are two important components of the model. Both of these components function independently and process different types of information. However, these concepts are regulated by a central executive. This concept is similar to how a computer processor might handle information which might be present on a hard disk. There are also many academic writing pieces which are written on this topic.

Miller’s Magic Number
This theory was given by George A. Miller in the year 1956. He stated that people can only hold 7 chunks of information in their short term memory before they would need to process it to their long term memory. He gave the magical number of 7 +/- 2. In this, he stated that an individual can only process 7 pieces of information on an average. This number can increase or decrease up to two pieces of information. This magic number was given after Miller conducted a number of experiments or studies of psychology.

Memory Decay
This theory was given by Peterson and Peterson in 1959. And according to them, our short term memory depicts a surprising amount of brevity before the decay affects our ability to recall those information pieces. They also conducted a number of experiments before giving this theory.

Flashbulb Memories
The theory of flashbulb memories was given by Kulik and Brown in the year 1977. According to them, a flashbulb memory can be defined as the kind of vivid and highly detailed memory in which an individual remembers a surprising amount of information. These memories are often created when an individual might be experiencing some sort of shock or trauma. There are also a number of academic writing pieces, which are written on this particular topic.

Memory and Smell
According to this theory, there is a strong link which exists between memory and smell. This link plays a great role in survival as it can enable an organism to recognize a smell and further detect whether that organism might be surrounded by the members of his own group, prey, or a predator. According to different academic writing pieces, this link still remains in all human beings.

Interference Theory
It is stated in this theory that, an individual might often fail to recall some sort of information if there is some kind of interference in that recall. Interference can be of two different types which are also mentioned below.

  • Retroactive: In this type of interference, the recall of old information could be interfered due to new information.
  • Proactive: In this of interference, the information which we already know might interfere with our ability to learn new information

According to different academic writing pieces, these types of interference are more likely to occur if both the information pieces are linked semantically.

Theory of False Memories
Evidence suggests that the information which an individual holds can be manipulated long after that information has been encoded and stored. This can lead an individual to develop false memories. False memories can also be created if an individual is persuaded into believing some kind of false account. There are many academic writing pieces which are also written on this topic.

The Weapon Effect on Eyewitness Testimonies
This theory was given by Johnson and Scott in the year 1976. According to them, the memory of an event does not just depend on how many times it was rehearsed but it also depends on the amount of attention that was paid to the stimulus. For example, in a situation like a bank robbery, an individual would have many things on his or her mind apart from the appearance of the robberies like if they were carrying a gun or not. This is also known as the weapon effect.

The Conclusion
Memory can be defined as the faculty of the brain which is primarily responsible for encoding, storing, and decoding the information which an individual might encounter in his or her day to day life. This is one of the most researched topics in the field of psychology. There are also many theories which are given on this topic. And some of those most influential theories are the level of processing model, the weapon effect, multi-store model, Miller’s magic number, and many other theories. In this academic writing piece, readers can find information about the most influential 10 memory theories.

The References