Why do I write these blog posts drawing wild conclusions from relatively simple psychological experiments?
Ironically, because early research into depth of processing and memory recall tells us that it significantly improves our ability to remember information.
Craik and Tulving (1975) ran a series of experiments to explore whether memorization of certain information could be improved through different levels of engagement with the items that were to be recalled later.
The experiment required participants to look at 60 words and then later recall them. Participants were split into three test groups. After looking at each word, one by one, they were asked either:
- To say whether the word was upper or lower case.
- To say another word which rhymed with it
- To say whether the word made sense within a sentence that followed
The experimenters hypothesised that the latter group (those with greater depth of engagement with the words) would have better recall rates.
Unsurprisingly, they were right.
If this is so unsurprising then, why is it that when we revise for tests we often simply read the content?
To me, this suggests that a better way to remember the content would be to extrapolate a hypothesised insight and put it into the context of a wider narrative.
That’s why this blog takes simple experiments from the early days of behavioural and cognitive psychological research and draws (sometimes wild) conclusions which would offend most researchers. These conclusions, however, are simply hypotheses which are useful to inspire further research and investigation while aiding learning.