418_Paper_Example - Running Head: CATEGORIZATION AND...

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Running Head: CATEGORIZATION AND PRESSURE 1 The Effects of Categorization and Pressure on Word Recall XXXX XXXX University of Texas, Austin
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CATEGORIZATION AND PRESSURE 2 Abstract We tested Miller’s chunking theory of working memory by administering a word recall task containing categorized and uncategorized words. Subjects recalled more words from the categorized list, supporting Miller’s theory and previous results obtained by Cohen. We also tested the effect of time pressure on word recall and did not find a significant effect, contrary to Light’s experiments on time pressure and item recognition. We explain our experiment and results, and how our results apply to previous research on the subject and cognitive theory. Keywords : chunking, working memory, word recall, time pressure, stress
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CATEGORIZATION AND PRESSURE 3 Introduction We designed our experiment to examine the effects of categorization and pressure on working memory. We hypothesized that when tasked with remembering several words, subjects would more easily recall words from semantically categorized lists than uncategorized words. Our hypothesis was based on Miller’s theory of chunks . Memory span is limited to a finite number of chunks of information (for words, the number is about five). What constitutes a chunk varies depending upon the knowledge of the subject. For speakers of English, an English word like bread constitutes a single chunk. For non-English speakers, the single word can have many chunks corresponding the letters or shapes that make up the word (Miller, 1956). Therefore by encoding information into chunks, one should be able to remember more information than if one had not used chunks. In our experiment, we used our categories as chunks, with words like kiwi , banana and grape theoretically encoded together into the chunk Fruit . If our hypothesis is correct, our subjects should more easily recall these chunked words than unchunked and uncategorized words. This would confirm the results obtained by Cohen in his experiments on categorization and recall (Cohen, 1963). In addition to categorization, we also examined the effect of pressure on word recall. Light’s experiments on time pressure and word recognition suggest that the presence of a time pressure will increase the number of incorrect responses (Light, 2006). We hypothesized that the presence of a time pressure will increase the number of both correctly and incorrectly recalled words. We are also interested in the effect of categorization and pressure on the type of
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418_Paper_Example - Running Head: CATEGORIZATION AND...

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