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What Is Chunking In Psychology

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Using The Chunking Method For Effective Communication

Chunking Psychology: Best Learning Technique For Better Memory | How To Remember Everything?

The chunking principle depends on three key points:

  • Information is easier to understand when it’s broken into small, well-organized units.
  • The maximum number of information items in a unit should be seven.
  • Information is easier to understand when the level of detail is right for the audience and appropriate for the message you want to convey.
  • Other Types Of Mnemonic Devices

    These arent the only memory tricks in the book. The following techniques also fall under the broad category of mnemonic devices:;

  • Using an image to remember the order or arrangement of things
  • Putting information to a melody and singing that melody when you need to recall it
  • Using phrases to remember patterns ;
  • What Makes Chunking Such An Effective Way To Learn


    How is chunking memory more efficient than normal memorizing? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

    Answer by Robert Frost, Instructional design specialist, on Quora:

    How is chunking memory more efficient than normal memorizing?

    The words in the question arent being used in a truly compatible manner. Chunking refers to the organization of information. The process of encoding memories into long term memory for later recall is the same whether the information is chunked or unchunked.

    Chunking is a tool for getting around the bottleneck of short-term memory. The average person can only manipulate seven pieces of information in short-term memory, at a time.

    In 1956, George Miller of Harvard published a paper, in Psychological Review, titled;The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. Millers paper resulted from a series of cognitive load experiments he and others conducted. Miller determined that people could handle between five and nine pieces of information, seven is simply the mean.

    However, Miller introduced a term called chunking. He determined that people could store more information if they were able to chunk or combine some pieces of information.

    For example, lets look at an American phone number.

    So, putting all of that together, we can deduce that learning will likely be most efficacious when:

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    What Is Chunking Psychology

    Before we get into the benefits of chunking, lets see what this term means in clinical terms.

    Chunking is a neurophysiological process that happens in short term memory and is used to put together or combine random pieces of information in the form of chunks or blocks for easy retrieval and use of that information.;

    Psychologists are looking the basis of this subconscious mechanism that happens way more than youd think. Chunking psychology is all about learning the causes and long-term effects of chunking and how it relates with the improved cognitive performance of individuals.;;;;;;;;

    Core Elements Of The Chunking Method

    Organise What is Chunking? Organising

    Fourteen years after George Millers research, Neal Johnson came up with an article outlining four main concepts of the memory process and chunking. These are: chunk, memory code, decoding and recoding. The chunk, as discussed earlier, is the series of pieces of information to be remembered. These items are stored in memory code. In recoding, one learns the code for a chunk, and in decoding, the code is translated back into the information it represents.

    The phenomenon of chunking as a memory mechanism is easy to observe in everyday life. Take, for example, the way people group numbers and information by remembering telephone numbers or addresses. A phone number such as 14121998 can be easily remembered by dividing it into 14, 12 and 1998. For example, the number is stored as December 14, 1998 instead of a series of individual digits. Others divide the number into pieces of 3, or into pieces of 2.

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    How To Improve Your Chunking Skills

    The practice is the only way to improve your chunking skills. Whenever you are sitting idol or engaged in some activity that requires you to remember a series of numbers or items, chunk this information and see how well you can recall it. The more information you can manage, the better your cognitive skills would get.;

    Chunking has proven benefits when it comes to improving memory. Although it wont make your memory extremely reliable, youd still be able to remember much more than an average individual. So, practice chunking your daily life for an improved cognitive performance.; ; ; ;;;

    The Relationship Between Expertise And Memory Capacity

    Several studies have shown that people are better able to remember things when they try to remember things they are familiar with. Likewise, people tend to make chunks from information they are familiar with. This level of familiarity makes people better able to remember more chunks, as well as more specific content of those chunks of information.

    A well-known experiment was conducted by Chase and Ericsson. They worked with students for two years to see if a persons number range could be extended through practice. One student was a long-distance runner.

    It is important to state that a person who has no knowledge of a particular expert domain such as race times would have had a harder time memorizing that many numbers using this method.

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    Finding A Balance When Chunking Information

    Here are some tips for considering the needs of your audience:

    • Remember the “magical number seven” rule as a general guideline for maximum recall.
    • If your audience is fairly new to a subject, include less information in each chunk. If your audience already knows the subject well, you can include more but still avoid giving them more than seven completely new items to process.
    • Assess the importance of each detail you want to include. If it’s not critical, consider leaving it out.

    So, if you were speaking to a group of sales trainees, you might include just the numbered points one to seven from the example above. You could even cut them down to just points one, four, six, and seven , and omit points two and three . But if you were tightening up the sales process with an experienced sales force, you might include the sub points as well.


    Business consultant Barbara Minto explains the importance of limiting the number of ideas you present and structuring them carefully in her book, “The Pyramid Principle. And see our articles on Business Storytelling; for more ways to be impactful and memorable when you’re communicating.

    Retrieval Practice And Spacing

    How to Chunk Information Effectively for Easy Memorization

    Whether youre using chunking or not, any good study routine should be grounded in retrieval practice an extremely powerful technique for studying by practising remembering information while spacing out your work by revisiting a topic on several different days, rather than just cramming all your time on that topic on a single day.

    Chunking works very nicely with retrieval practice and spacedlearning: once youve decided how youre going to chunk the information, practiseremembering that information using your chunking strategy on several different days separated by time intervals.

    Youll often feel like youre remembering in two stages.

    • Step 1 is remembering the big picture: going back to the countries of the European Union example, that would be remembering the categories and the numbers in each category .
    • Step 2 is remembering the details: the individual countries under each heading.

    Be sure to practise both steps, and diagnose which parts of the recall process you find hardest.

    Perhaps you have problems with Step 1 or maybe you struggle more with Step 2, such as having issues remembering all 7 Slavic countries. Focus your efforts on the areas you struggle most with, and look for opportunities to group and simplify further if necessary.

    You might find its tough to remember the information accurately the first time you leave a time interval of a few days before attempting retrieval practice even if youre using chunking.

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    Identify Similarities Or Patterns

    As you are creating groupings, look for ways to relate units to each other in meaningful ways. What do the items share in common? You might group items together because they are each spelled with four letters, because they start with the same letter, or because they share a similar purpose. Linking groups of items to things from your memory can also help make them more memorable. You might be more likely to remember that you need eggs, baking soda, and chocolate chips if you are to bake a cake.

    Channel Capacity Magic Number Seven Increase Of Short

    The word chunking comes from a famous 1956 paper by George A. Miller, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information“. At a time when information theory was beginning to be applied in psychology, Miller observed that some human cognitive tasks fit the model of a “channel capacity” characterized by a roughly constant capacity in bits, but short-term memory did not. A variety of studies could be summarized by saying that short-term memory had a capacity of about “seven plus-or-minus two” chunks. Miller wrote, “With binary items the span is about nine and, although it drops to about five with monosyllabic English words, the difference is far less than the hypothesis of constant information would require . The span of immediate memory seems to be almost independent of the number of bits per chunk, at least over the range that has been examined to date.” Miller acknowledged that “we are not very definite about what constitutes a chunk of information.”

    It is a little dramatic to watch a person get 40 binary digits in a row and then repeat them back without error. However, if you think of this merely as a mnemonic trick for extending the memory span, you will miss the more important point that is implicit in nearly all such mnemonic devices. The point is that recoding is an extremely powerful weapon for increasing the amount of information that we can deal with.

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    What Is The Purpose Of Chunking

    The purpose of chunking is to retain information in the short term by splitting it up into pieces. As a result, the limited storage capacity of the human working memory is bypassed. A chunk, or piece, is a collection of basic units grouped and stored in a persons long term memory.

    These chunks can be easily recalled in the memory because of their familiarity. The items are more easily remembered in a group than individual items themselves. The chunks of information can be highly subjective because they depend on a persons perceptions and past experiences. The size of so-called chunks varies, but the total amount often consists of two to seven items.

    Representing Capacity And Processing Speed

    5 Steps to Better Time Management via Chunking

    Following from the work of Zhang and Simon , capacity is time-based in order to incorporate both a capacity mechanism and a method by which processing speed can be represented. Information in short-term memory has a temporal duration of 2,000 ms unless rehearsed . Since the results of the model are compared to 2- to 5-year-old children who show little sign of rehearsal , the model does not include a method by which items in short-term memory can be rehearsed.

    Figure A1. An example of a chunk hierarchy within the model. In this instance, the chunks for ,, and have each been learnt incrementally. Each chunk is represented by an ellipse. The topmost chunk is always empty.

    Based on the work of Zhang and Simon , a time is allocated to access/encode a chunk and its constituent phonemes. It takes 400 ms to access and encode a chunk plus an additional 30 ms for each phoneme in the chunk except the first phoneme. These timings are used when the model is presented with an input utterance. For example, let us assume that the input utterance can be encoded using four chunks, one for each word. The time to represent this input would therefore be 400 + + 400 + + 400 + + 400 + = 1,780 ms .

    Note how chunking is critical in determining the time to access a given input. If the model had not yet learnt the chunk for and required the two chunks and to represent it, then the encoding time would be 2,150 ms and therefore capacity would be compromised.

    Edited by:

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    Use Seven Items For Better Chunking Memory

    This point comes from a famous article entitled “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” written by Harvard psychologist George Miller when he was studying short-term memory in the 1950s. He found that the maximum number of unrelated items that the human brain can memorize is generally between five and nine, making seven the ideal number for most people.

    So, a memorable list for training a salesperson might be:

  • Make an appointment with the prospect.
  • Research the prospect’s business and how they could use your product.
  • When you meet the prospect, briefly confirm that your knowledge of the business is correct.
  • Close the sale.
  • Send the order to your order-processing department.
  • Most of us would find it fairly easy to memorize these seven steps. If there were more steps, though, we’d run the risk of forgetting one or more of them.

    One way around this is to bundle up small items to make larger ones. For example:

  • Make an appointment with the prospect.
  • Check the purchasing manager’s name in a directory or online.
  • Follow up with an email to confirm.
  • Find out about the prospect’s business.
  • Visit its website or read its brochure.
  • Check its published annual accounts or elsewhere to find out its turnover, and estimate how much of your product it could use.
  • Find out who its current supplier is.
  • Briefly validate your knowledge of the prospect’s business.
  • Confirm what its main products are and what proportion of turnover these represent.
  • Ask about any plans for new products.
  • Tip:

    How Chunking Psychology Can Help Improve Cognitive Skills

    Our brains are kind of like psychology chunking machines. We are immersed in a massive sea of information, both random and focused, that if there wasnt this seemingly automatic way of organizing information, things would have become quite chaotic and overwhelming for us.;

    This is what chunking is all about. In this article, we are going to explore chunking in terms of its psychological applications and benefits. So, lets get started;;;

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    Break Larger Amounts Of Information Into Smaller Units

    For example, to remember items from a list, start by forming them into groups. If you are working with a list of vocabulary words, for example, you might create small groups of words that are similar or related to one another. A shopping list might be broken down into smaller grouping based on whether the items on the list are vegetables, fruits, dairy, or grains.

    Chunking Psychology: Effective Learning Technique For Better Memory

    Chunking – Intro to Psychology

    Our mind is like a computer processor. Human memory involves the ability to both preserve and recover information we have learned or experienced. The study of human memory has been a subject of science and philosophy for thousands of years and has become one of the major topics of interest within cognitive psychology.

    There are three separate stages of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The approach of making efficient use of short-term memory by grouping information is called chunking. The American Psychological Association defines chunking as the process by which the brain divides larger pieces of data into smaller units , so they are easier to retain in short-term memory.;

    In education as well as psychology, chunking is a way to bind together pieces of information so they are easier to understand and remember. In psychology, a chunk is defined as a collection of similar units or pieces of information combined into one group. This makes it easier to recall larger groups of data, including words and numbers.

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    How To Use Chunking In Your Daily Routine

    You can incorporate chunking in your everyday life as a memory-enhancing exercise. And there is no limit to how much information you can chunk together. Science doesnt know the limits to how much it can improve your cognitive skills.

    Here is how you can go about using Chunking in your daily routine.;

    The next time you have to remember a random number, divide it into different groups and see how well you can remember the groups that you have just made. Or, the next time you are making a list of items that you have to get from the market, divide these items into different categories and see how much you can remember when you are actually buying the stuff.;

    Research shows that people can store up to 5 to 7 units of information in their short-term memory at a time. Chunking can help you increase that number to more than 50. It is about the way you approach the information that you have to chunk together. You can learn more about chunking psychology at

    How Did Chunking As A Psychology Tool Originate

    In 1956, Harvard University professor George Miller published an article entitled The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Information Processing.

    In it he described the results of a series of cognitive experiments that he conducted with his colleagues. Miller found that people could usually remember between five and nine pieces of information. Seven was and is the average.

    Of course, mnemonic techniques were used long before this time. Some of these techniques date back to ancient Greek. Today everyone uses these mnemonic techniques.

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