Craik and Tulving (1975) Levels Of Processing Lab

This experiment is based upon research by Craik and Tulving (1975) who attempted to provide evidence for these two hypotheses:

• Memory is a by-product of mental operations
• The durability of memory is in proportion to the "depth" of these operations.

These hypotheses make up what is called the "Depth of Processing" theory. Craik and Tulving thought that the more "deeply" one processes something, the more likely that one would remember it. The early or shallow stages of processing involve the surface characteristics of the stimulus, such as its appearance or its sound. The later or deeper stages of processes involve meaning or semantic characteristics. Thus, they reasoned, subjects would remember some of the words checked for case, more of the words checked for rhyme, and even more of the words considered for filling in sentences.

As it turns out, the data supported their theory.
The results were as follows:


The yes and no categories refer to the correct and incorrect words given for each question type.

For example, for the question "Is this word in all capitals?",

"HELLO" is a correct or 'yes' word and "Goodbye" is an incorrect or 'no' word.
The data from the original experiment shows the percentage of the words from each of the groups that was remembered in the second part of the test.

Since Craik and Tulving's original research, the levels of processing ideas have changed. "Depth of processing" is misleading because it implies that there is a single set of processes that can be applied to all stimuli. Because stimuli can be processed in many different ways, the term "elaboration" is preferred to "depth of processing" by many researchers. Moreover, different kinds of processing seem to be appropriate to different memory tasks, for example, recognition vs. recall.


The instructions given to subjects:
The learning phase consists of 3 practice...

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