Evaluate two models or theories of one cognitive process with reference to research studies

 The cognitive process we are going to examine is memory and compare two models.


Model 1: The multi-store model of memory (Atkinson and Shiffrin, 1968)


This model was one of the first to give an overview of the basic structure or architecture of memory and it was inspired by computer science. The model seems rather simplistic, but it did spark off the idea of humans as information processors and it has been one of the most influential models attempting to describe the memory system.



The multi-store model is based on the assumption that memory consists of a number of separate stores (sensory, short-term and long term) and that memory processes are sequential.


Sensory memory registers sensory information and stores it for around 1–4 seconds. Information in the sensory memory is modality specific (i.e. related to different senses). Only a small amount of the sensory information will be transferred into the short-term memory (STM) store (depending on whether or not it is attended to).


STM has limited capacity (around seven items) and limited duration (around 6–12 seconds). Information processed in STM is transferred into LTM if it is rehearsed. If not, it is lost.


LTM is believed to be of indefinite duration and of potentially unlimited capacity.


Evidence of the multi-store model of memory: the serial position effect:


·         The serial position effect is believed to be linked to rehearsal, i.e. people repeat things in order to remember. The serial position effect suggests that people remember things better if they are either the first (primacy effect) or last (recency effect) item in a list of things to remember.


Study to use: Glanzer and Cunitz (1966)

Evidence of the multi-store model of memory: case studies of individuals with amnesia due to brain damage

Strengths of the multi-store model of memory:

Limitations of the multi-store model of memory:


Model 2: The working memory model (Baddeley and Hitch, 1974)


·         Baddeley and Hitch suggested the working memory model as an alternative to STM.

·         This model challenged the view that STM is unitary and that information processing is passive.  So it replaced STM with Working Memory.

·         Working memory is seen as an active store used to hold and manipulate information. The model has been developed over the years to include findings from research (e.g. a fourth component, the episodic buffer, has been added).

Working memory includes three separate components:

1.    The articulatory control system: the “inner voice”.


2.    The phonological store: the “inner ear”. This can hold speech-based material active in a phonological form. It is assumed that a memory trace can only last from 1.5 to 2 seconds if it is not refreshed by the articulatory control system.



Study to use: Quinn and McConnel (1996)


Strengths of working memory:

·         The model has been useful in understanding which parts of the memory system may be linked to underlying problems in reading and mathematical skills.

·         The model focuses on the processes of integrating information, rather than on the isolation of the subsystems. This provides a much better basis for understanding the more complex aspects of executive control in working memory.

Limitations of working memory:

·         The major criticism of the first models of working memory was the unclear role of the central executive.

·         The model has been criticized for its emphasis on structure rather than processing (encoding, storage or retrieval).