Memory is a concept that refers to the process which information is encoded, stored, retrieved; a “model of memory” is a hypothesised framework of memory. One of the models of memory is the Multi-store Model (MSM) of memory. Based on the assumptions that memory consists of separate places where information is stored and works in a single, uniform way, that memory processes are sequential, memory is categorised into three sections: sensory, short-term, long-term. It is suggested that sensory information from the environment first enters the sensory memory, after which the information is retained, not processed, until it is decided whether it be transferred to the short-term memory (STM) through attention. Information in STM can only be held for about 6-12 seconds, with a limited capacity of ~7 items. Information in STM is quickly lost unless it is transferred into long-term memory (LTM) through rehearsal, however it could be lost when there are interruptions or distractions: displacement. The LTM is believed to have unlimited capacity, where memories are stored in an outline form instead of an exact copy of the events, thus memory may be distorted when they are retrieved as there are gaps filled by ourselves. A study that supports this theory is Glanzer and Cunitz (1966), aimed to investigate the serial position effect — the tendency to recall the first and last item on a list rather than the middle ones.
Participants were asked to memorise a list of words then recall them in any order, in 2 different conditions: the first being recordings of 20-word lists of common one-syllable nouns then completing a free-recall task right after hearing the words; the second, involved a delay between the end of the list and start of recall, in which participants had to count backwards from a number for 30 seconds, so rehearsal was prevented. Results from condition 1 showed that participants were better at remembering words at the start and the end of the list. Results from condition 2 showed that participants were unable to recall the words at the end but were still able to recall words from the start.
The words at start are still remembered because participants had the intention of memorising the words and tend to repeat them, comparably more rehearsal thus transferred into LTM (primacy effect). Words were recalled right after the last words were heard, thus they are still in STM (recency effect). However, in the second condition, because there was a delay that exceeded the time limit of STM in recalling the words, there was no rehearsal for the latter words to be put into LTM and the words are displaced from the STM by the filler activity from. Hence we see the separation between STM and LTM, that memory could only be transferred to LTM through rehearsal, supporting the MSM as participants were able to recall 5-9 items in the first conditio