THE LEVELS –OF-PROCESSING APPROACH

The level of processing approach was proposed by Craik and Lockhart in 1972. Their paper has been one of the most influential in the area of human memory.

Description of the Level-of-Processing Approach
The level-of-processing approach proposes that meaningful information processing leads to permanent retention. This theory is also called the depth of processing approach. Different levels Craik and Lockhart proposed that people can analyze stimuli at a number of different levels. • • Shallow levels. Deep levels.

Shallow levels: The shallow levels involve analysis in terms of physical or sensory characteristics, such as brightness or pitch. If the stimulus is analyzed at a very shallow level, then that memory trace will be fragile may be and may be quickly forgotten. Deep levels: The deep levels involve analysis in terms of meaning through related associations, images and past experiences related to the stimulus. If the stimulus is analyzed at a very deep level, then the memory trace will be durable and it will be remembered. The process of cycling information Craik and Lockhart discussed rehearsal, the process of cycling information through memory. They proposed two kinds of rehearsal. • • Maintenance rehearsal. Elaborative rehearsal.

Maintenance rehearsal: Maintenance rehearsal merely repeats the kind of analysis that has already been carried out. If you are using shallow maintenance rehearsal, then increasing rehearsal time will not influence later recall. Elaborative rehearsal:

Elaborative rehearsal involves a deeper, more meaningful analysis of the stimulus. If you are using deep elaborative rehearsal, then an increase in rehearsal time will be helpful. During that time, you can dig out all kinds of extra images, association, and memories to enrich the stimulus and later recall will be more accurate.

Research on Level-of-Processing Approach The major hypothesis emerging from Craik and Lockhart’s paper was that deeper level of processing should produce better recall. Parkin (1984) discovered that people who made semantic judgments about a word’s category or its synonym performed much better on a surprise recall test than did people who made non semantic judgments’ (for example, about the number of vowels contained in a word or whether it had been printed only in capital letters). Reviews of dozens of studies concluded that deeper processing generally produces higher recall scores than shallow processing. Depth of Processing and Face Recognition Craik and Lockhart (1972) proposed that strength of memory depends on how deeply information is processed, not on how long it is processed. Memory for words not improved by merely repeating them for a longer period of time. A large number of studies support the depth of processing conclusion. Research has that shallow processing of faces-like shallow processing of words-leads to poor recall. For instance, research participants recognize greater number of photos of faces if they make judgments about whether a person is honest, rather than gender of the person or the width of the person’s nose. Deeper processing leads to encoding a greater number of features and therefore superior recall. The Compatibility between Encoding and Retrieval Craik and Lockhart’s original description of level-of-processing theory emphasized encoding or how items are placed into memory. It did not mention the details about retrieval or how items are recovered from the memory. Later Craik and another colleague proposed that retrieval conditions should duplicate encoding condition in order for deep processing to be highly effective. Explanations for the Effectiveness of Deep Processing Craik and Lockhart (1986) believe that deep levels of processing encourage recall because of two factors • Distinctiveness. • Elaboration. Distinctiveness Distinctiveness means that a stimulus is different from all other memory traces.

Elaboration The second factor that operates with deep levels of processing is elaboration, which involves rich processing in terms of meaning. In Depth: The Self-Reference Effect The self-reference effect points out that people recall more information when they try to relate that information to themselves. Research In the classic demonstration of self-reference effect, Rogers, Kuiper, and Kicker (1977) asked participants to process lists of words according to the kind of instructions usually studied in level-of-processing research that is, in terms of their physical characteristics, their acoustic (sound) characteristics, or their semantic (meaning) characteristics. However, other words were to be processed in terms of self-reference:- People were asked to decide whether a particular word could be applied to them. Results The results showed that the self-reference task produced the best recall. Apparently, when we think about word in connection with ourselves, we develop a particularly memorable coding for that word. Example For example, suppose that you are trying to decide whether the word generous applies to you yourself. You might, remember how you loaned your notes to a friend who, had missed class, and you shared a box of candy with the other people in the lounge-yes, generous does apply. The mental processes involved in the self-reference task seem to increase the chances that an item will be recalled. The self-reference effect has been demonstrated repeatedly, for example with instructions to create mental imagery and creativity. Applications of the Self-Reference Effect
• One important application of the self-reference effect is obvious: when you want to

remember material, try to relate it to your own experience or to your friends. Research: Reeder and his colleagues demonstrated that this technique works for prose passages, as well as isolated words. • The self-reference effect can also be applied to advertising.

Research: in one study, people made judgments about items that were pictured in advertisements. A question about physical attributes might ask a person to judge a picture of a camera and answer the question, “Is there a red color in the picture?” A semantic question might ask, “Is it edible?” A self- reference question might ask, “Have you ever used this product?” The participants were later told to recall the brand names of items. The self-reference instructions produced the best recall, followed by the semantic instructions. Performance was worst with the instructions on physical attributes.

The Major Contribution of the Levels-of-Processing Approach
• One major contribution of the levels-of-processing approach is that it emphasized the

importance of the mental processes that occur when the material is being learned. • Another contribution is practical; we need to emphasize deep, meaningful processing if we want to prove retention. The Drawbacks of the Levels-of-Processing Approach
• The first problem is circularity; we have no independent assessment of depth.

Specifically, we say that if processing is deep, then retention will be better. • Deep processing is not always better; performance depends upon the way memory is tested. • Shallow processing – in terms of sound- is more effective than deep processing when memory is tested by asking whether any words on the list rhymed with toy. The Current Status of the Levels-of-Processing Approach The level-of-processing approach played an important role in the history of cognitive psychology, and all current and future theories of memory need to acknowledge its contribution. However, the two major problems with the approach have prevented psychologists from developing that theory more completely.

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