Effect of meaningfulness and emotional arousal on encoding. (CSE 2017. 15 Marks)

Q. Explain the role of meaningfulness and emotional arousal in encoding. Discuss the implications of encoding specificity principle. (CSE 2017- 15 marks ).


Model answer :
Encoding is an active process of putting in material in the memory system. Meaningfulness of material has influence on memory process right from attention to retention.
Although Atkinson and Shiffrin’s Model of memory didn’t acknowledge the role of meaningfulness of material for sensory and STM but researches show that meaningfulness matters for STM and sensory memory too. (Baddeley, Wickens ).
Lockhart’s model puts heavy emphasis over meaningfulness.
Lockhart says that meaning is not just all or none phenomenon. Meaning of a word may vary in connotations Elaborations signify the importance of multitudes of meaning. The depth of meaning increases with elaboration.
In one influential study, Rogers compared the amount of recalls following the learning trials in which some subjects were given only main idea, some were given main ideas plus one example, some subjects main idea plus two examples and the like.
The result showed, the greater the elaboration, the better the recall.
Effect of emotions :
There are several evidences that show effect of mood on encoding.
Effect of self reference: Subjects who relate themselves with the “to be learnt material” retain better. (Craik).
The Pollyanna Principle says that we process pleasant material more efficiently and accurately.
Zeigarnik effect shows that memory of unfinished task is better.
Mood congruence effect shows we pay more attention to those content that is congruent with our current mood.


Implications of Encoding specificity principle :
Encoding specificity principle says that recall is better in the same context of encoding. Moreover, context could be real or imagined, physical or emotional. ( Smith).
This principle thus implies that
1) while recalling something, we should focus on both content and context. Context facilitates memory recalls.
2) Outshining hypothesis, however, shows that context helps only when our content cues are weak. Therefore, we must try to over-learn the material while encoding . It will lower our dependence on the contextual cues.
3) Inducing congruent emotion with imagery helps in recalls.

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