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The Principles of Memory Retrieval

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What are the "principles of retrieval"? How do the "principles of retrieval" improve the chances of recalling information at a later date? Include in your answer the founder of each principle and brief description of each principle. Provide empirical evidence for the validity of the retrieval principles.

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Solution Summary

This solution provides a detailed description of the principles of memory retrieval (e.g., categorization, encoding specificity, context effect, etc.). It also investigates a substantial amount of empirical evidence lending support for each principle.

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We rely on memory whenever we think back to a personal event--when we remember, for example, our first day of school, our tenth birthday, or trip to Disneyland. Memory is also obviously involved when we remember information about historical events, such as the Challenger explosion, the Chernobyl disaster, and the war in Iraq.

Research suggests that several principles of retrieval aid recall:

1. The principle of "categorization" states that material organized into categories or other units are more likely recalled than information with no apparent organization. This effect happens even when organized material is initially presented in random order.

Bousfield (1953) presented participants with 60 words. The words were presented in scrambled order but came from one of four categories: animals, names, professions, and vegetables. Despite this, subjects tended to recall the words in clusters--for example, a number of animals together, than a group of vegetables together, and so on. Interestingly, when the material doesn't have apparent organization, asking people to organize them into their own subjective categories improves recall (Mandler, 1967).

2. A second principle of retrieval, discovered by Thomson and Tulving (1970) is called "encoding specificity". The idea here is that at the time material is first put into the long term memory (LTM), it is encoded in a particular way, depending on the context present at the time. The manner in which information is encoded is specific to that context. At the time of recall, the person is at a great advantage if the same information ...

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