Monday, February 16, 2009

Depth of Processing and the Retention of Words in Episodic Memory

I started blogging about movies because I believed that if I thought about the movie more and wrote about it, then I would remember more detail about the movie. Now you know that my movie site was first, and my general interest and cooking sites came later. 

I named the site "Depth of Processing" because of Craik and Tulving's paper, where they showed that people remembered things they thought about. As the above graph illustrates, people remember words longer if they think about the meaning of the word rather than superficially.

I was so happy to actually find a reference to the classic paper from 1975.

It is worth pointing out that the paper deals with short term memory rather than the long-term memory that I'd rather cultivate. 

Craik and Tulving have one equation presumably showing the exponential decay of memory with time, although I can't be sure since I can't figure out the definition of the variables. Social scientists never seem quantitative enough for physical scientists.