MAGICAL NUMBER SEVEN 2)3)
The maximum number of features that can be perceived in a discriminated way.
Actually, G.A. MILLER, who introduced the notion, is somewhat more tolerant about it and writes about "The magical number seven, plus or minus two", as defining "some limits on our capacity for processing information" (1956, p.81-97).
Basing himself on numerous experiments, MILLER came to the following conclusions:
"… the span of absolute judgment and the span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process, and remember.
"… the process of recoding is a very important one in human psychology (and)… in particular… linguistic recoding… that seems to me to be the very lifeblood of the thought process.
"… the concepts and measures provided by the theory of information provide a quantitative way of getting at some of these questions. The theory provides us with a yardstick for calibrating our stimulus materials and for measuring the performance of our subjects" (p.79-80).
MILLER's views are significant for various systemic concepts and models:
- our capacity to discriminate our perceptions are severely limited and we are easily exposed to information overload.
- it may be more useful in some cases at least to train ourselves in the perception of complex compounded stimuli units, possibly synthetized through various levels (for instance micro-, macro- and mega-, or hierarchical as in H. SIMON's "Hora and Tempus parable").
- the well organized perception of patterns of correlations and the construction of gestalts should be very useful.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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