They argued the we ignore most of the information available in our ongoing sensory experiences, so it is never elaborated into more complex representations. This is why it is unlikely to be remembered. For example, as you drive down a street, many signs are projected onto your retina. Some you attend to and think about to varying degrees, others go totally unnoticed.
A stop sign usually requires only a small amount of attention or thought while a sign advertising a movie you recently saw could evoke a complex series of thoughts drawing on a large amount of associated information in memory. Thus it could be argued that the depth of processing we give any experience determines the number and complexity of its encodings and therefore how likely we are to recall it in the future.
Craik and Tulving (1975) conducted an experiment to evaluate depth of processing, They presented a series of words to subjects along with questions asking something about each word. Some questions-such as ”Is the word in capital letters?”-only required a surface analysis of the word. Other questions required deeper processing-for example, “Would the word fit in the sentence “The boy played the___ ?” Later, when subjects were given an unexpected recognition test their ability to recognize a word was directly related to the depth of processing required by the earlier question about that word.
A closely related aspect of depth of processing is the organization and structuring that occur during elaboration. This cart involve reordering material from the sequence in which it was experienced into a sequence more consistent with some logical structure. You often do this when abstracting or summarizing a lecture, particularly when the lecturer’s organization of the material seems less satisfactory than your own.
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