Memory, Its Importance and Role in Life

Memory plays a pivotal role in people’s lives at multiple levels, including routine, professional activity, socialization, learning, decision-making, communication, and others. Indeed, independent living might be particularly hindered or even impossible if one’s memory is impaired or dysfunctional. According to Baddeley et al. (2015), memory is an essential element of human life since it ensures continuity and helps people cope with daily activities. Indeed, remembering information allows individuals to learn and use the information for fundamental activities and behaviors and the understanding themselves in the context of their life experiences. According to Wang and Gennari (2019), the mechanisms of memory, including encoding and retrieval, predetermine the quality of information recalled over time. Thus, the importance of memory cannot be overrated, which validates the relevance of research on this issue.

In the scholarly psychological literature, the research on memory is vast. This phenomenon has interested psychologists for decades, producing a substantial pool of evidence available to researchers today. According to Zlotnik and Vansintjan (2019), memory is defined as “the faculty of encoding, storing, and retrieving information” (p. 2). It is a complex combination of processes that depend on the quality of data processing in the human brain. Thus, as defined by another scholar investigating the issue, memory is “not a unitary faculty of the mind but is composed of multiple systems that have different operating principles and different neuroanatomy” (Squire, 2009, p. 12711). Squire (2009) emphasizes that working memory is the process of retaining information from events around people, processing it, and offering the possibility to use both past and present experiences in the future. According to Xu et al. (2018), the difference in memory follows the difference in encoding and processing the memorized information. Thus, given the definition of memory and the discussion of its importance to human existence, the dependence of memory on processing style should be investigated.

Indeed, information processing is at the center of memory mechanisms. Processing style might be defined as an approach to information perception, analysis, and manipulation. According to Craik (1979), the ability to recall information can be influenced by encoding. In their article, Craik and Lockhart (1972) criticized the multi-store framework of memory research and proposed a new one. According to this new approach, the levels of processing are core to the quality of memory. Indeed, the trace of memory, implied in the duration and clarity of how the information is recalled, particularly depends on the processing style. Obermiller (1985) stated that the processing style is predetermined by the depth and level of the motivation. The results of experiments conducted by Craik and Tulving (1975) suggest that “the episodic memory trace may be thought of as a rather automatic by-product of operations carried out by the cognitive system” (p. 268). The better or deeper the semantic analysis of the information, the more accurate and durable the trace is.

Overall, the levels and depth of processing are essential for the style, which ultimately affects memory. As stated by Craik (2002), memory is “pure processing,” where the quality and deliberation of cognitive involvement in the analysis of the information predetermines the accuracy of recall. One of the recent studies on memory aimed to identify the effects of the process of retrieval on the quality of recall of the learned information. Kubik et al. (2018) found that retrieval was more effective for the accuracy and longevity of memory traces rather than learning, which validates the importance of investigating the mechanisms of memory. In addition, Rose (2020) integrated the frameworks of neurological research to identify that the retention of memory depended on the context of the task and the perceptual encoding. Such findings contribute to the development of the hypothesis for the present study. Moreover, different encoding conditions yield different accuracy of information recall, as demonstrated by the study by Challis et al. (1996). Thus, memory depends on various factors, including processing style, encoding, and context.

A vast body of literature demonstrates the relationship between processing and memory. According to Tan, K., & Choo, F. (1990), “deep and elaborative information processing leave memory traces of higher distinctiveness and durability,” which is validated by the intentional, analytic, and interpretive approach to deep processing (p. 68). The levels of processing have been significantly addressed in the scholarly literature on human memory. Alongside the processing styles, levels of processing have been claimed to have a significant effect on memory (Bradshaw & Anderson, 1982). The scholars conducted several experiments and found that elaborative encoding of information allowed for a more accurate memory trace for a longer period (Bradshaw & Anderson, 1982). Maki and Schuler (1980) conducted an experimental study on the interaction between levels of processing and rehearsal in memory. The scholars found that the participants could recall information better when the level of processing was deeper and the rehearsal duration increased (Maki & Schuler, 1980). Moreover, Long et al. (2018) conducted a study that demonstrated the interaction between attention and memory, where selective attention increases the accuracy of recalled information.

The presented literature review allows for outlining the following aims of the research project:

  • Develop a hypothesis based on the scholarly literature;
  • Test the hypothesis using the experimental design;
  • Conduct experiments with participants to compare the effects of deep and shallow processing on memory traces.

The directional hypothesis that will drive the overall research process is as follows: The objects analyzed according to the deep processing mechanisms are recalled more accurately than those analyzed according to the shallow processing mechanisms.


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PsychologyWriting. "Memory, Its Importance and Role in Life." February 18, 2023.