Furgus Craik and Robert Lockhart (1972) proposed the levels of processing explanation of memory. This model suggests that the deeper you think about something, the more likely you are to remember it. This “thinking” does not have to be conscious but merely through “deeper processing” and the deeper something is processed, the more likely you are to recall it. This explanation suggests memory is not separate and just the by-product of everyday thinking activity rather than a mechanism used to think.
The levels of processing explanation proposes 3 different levels of processing; a shallow level known as the structural level where something is processed the least, the acoustic level involves sound and information is processed a little deeper and the semantic level where information is processed the deepest with through its meaning which requires you to think about it the most. This deeper level of processing involves creating more associations between what people are tasked with thinking about and other memories resulting in it being recalled more.

Craik & Tulving (1975) – Levels Of Processing Study

Craik and Tulving (1975) conducted a study to see if processing information on a deeper level resulted in people being able to remember more than if it was processed on a shallow level. They asked participants to answer one of three questions about 60 words with each question representing either structural processing, acoustic processing or semantic processing. Participants were then tested on their recall to see which words they were able to remember. Results found that participants remembered more words when they were asked questions about their meaning (semantic processing) compared to words which required a shallow level of processing (structural). The conclusion was that semantic processing which involved processing the information at a deeper level was remembered more than if it was processed at a structural superficial level.

Levels Of Processing Evaluation


  • Craik & Tulvings level of processing study has been recreated and repeated with similar results showing it has a high level of reliability and consistency. The explanation also fits in with our expectations of how practicing or rehearsing something leads to a deeper level of processing.


  • The study into this explanation lacks validity as we cannot be certain the questions the participants were asked actually led to processing the information at three different levels. As there is no independent measure of depth processing; this model is extremely difficult to prove for certain.

How to reference/cite this information:

The levels of processing explanation of memory – https://gcsepsychology.com/levels-of-processing-explanation-of-memory/


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