George Miller [Magical Number 7 +/-2] Part 7

From: danielle still (
Date: Mon Mar 02 1998 - 12:14:07 GMT

Dear Everyone,
        Here is my part of the Miller paper. Please forgive
me if it seems rather confused, as it might well do because i
got rather confused while reading it. Hope you can make some
sense of what i've written, if not i apologise and hope it
becomes clearer when discussed in the lecture.



        Miller's paper is his attempt to discuss his thoughts
on the limitations of people's capacities for processing
information. Miller thought that the variance was seven
pieces of information for most people, however the number did
vary slightly depending on the person. Miller stated that
variation was plus or minus two pieces of information.
Resulting in people's capacities varying from five to nine
pieces of information. Miller was unable to make a judgement
on the number seven, as he was not able to say why seven was
the chosen number. In summarising the paper there are points
that need to be discussed.

        Firstly, it is thought that the span of absolute
judgement imposes a limitation on our capacities. This
limitation could be due to the fact that our learning is
inhibited or that our nervous system is unable to receive all
the information being presented to it. Or it could be that
all the information is received yet only a certain amount is
processed or only the parts relevant to the person is
processed and the rest is disregarded. Following on from
this is the limitations of immediate memory, it is shown that
people are able to process more than one attribute
simultaneously. However it means that they will be less
accurate with the limitation of seven pieces of information
being split between two stimulus's. Miller thought that by
organising the information into their separate dimensions
that they would be able to be put together to form a
sequence. Therefore only taking one slot of information e.g.
the sun comes out at night would be six separate pieces of
information but if it was chunked together to form a sentence
it would become one piece of information. This according to
Miller streches the informational bottleneck allowing the
capacity of information processing to grow.

        Secondly, it has become apparent that recoding is of
particular interest, as it is important in the different
dimensions of psychology. Recoding is a way of extending the
memory span enabling more information to be processed and
remembered. It can be studied by experimental studies and
the behaviours can be noted, it is important to note that the
results can be affected by individual differences.

        Sorry if this does not make sense, i hope you can
make sense of it when you read it as i have probably confused
you more than the paper.

danielle still

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