Re: Miller: Magical Number 7 +/- 2

From: Matsers, Kate (
Date: Thu Nov 16 1995 - 09:00:21 GMT

How can I hope to follow Richard, Wendy and more relatedly Denise's
recent commentaries!?

I have again, had a great problem in accessing the material I ave been
required to read.

Nevertheless, I am trying to same something, if only to show willing:

On Miller's: The Magical Number Seven:

The span of immediate memory:

Miller provides us with evidence that the observer can transmit seven
bits of information, but can they retain them? The span of immediate
memory should vary according to the variance of the number of bits of
information contained in each item. (To prophase Miller). Therefore
the more bits of information in an item the fewer items it should be
possible to retain. However, this can be shown to be not quite the

GM> "Absolute judgement is limited by the
GM> amount of information, immediate memory
GM> is limited by the number of items."

Thus we are beginning to see that the magical number seven remains,
although once the memory becomes involved it can segregate pieces of
information into chunks, which is how any of us know more than just
seven things!

This relates back to something I once said in a seminar about the fact
that we can group information and could therefore retain seven, times
seven, times seven and so on, so long as no single list was longer than
seven. This falls apart under test though, when two groups of seven are
given to a participant for memorising, they will lose some of the
information and are likely to only recall approximately ten items.

Miller goes on to explain different types of recoding that have been
used to demonstrated this "chunking" and empirical studies that have
attempted to increase the amount of information that a participant can
deal with and retain.

Miller brings us back to the ongoing discussion of the possibility that
all cognition is hinged upon or driven by language. Miller describes
language as the ultimate process of recoding which enables us to chunk
information into retainable portions in order to overcome the limit of

This reminds me of the discursive psychology we were introduced to last
year. Although Harre went about it in a rather annoying manner, I could
always see his point then, and I would like to pursue this thought
further by reading a little more of the discussion hat have attempted
to explain our thinking and behaving in terms of the linguistic
constructions we find ourselves contained within.

I am apologise again that this summary is not longer or more in depth,
but I have had huge problems at a technological level: "Computers are
the thieves of time and sanity." (Matsers, Kate, after many
aggravations). I have already lost 400 words that I wrote on this
subject, I am sure it is in here somewhere but it is hidden in a
network of directories and I don't know what it has called itself!


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