Re. 7 plus or minus 2

Subject: Re. 7 plus or minus 2
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 12:56:51 -0600

Information Mapping TM seems to use the "7 plus or minus 2"
concept for chunking information. This concept arises from
George (?) Miller's 1950s (I believe) study that
recommended the use of 7-digit phone numbers: the average
person can hold only 7 numbers (with a range of 2 on either
side accounting for the non-average folk) easily in
short-term memory.

This finding has been used and abused ever since to justify
all sorts of strange ways of limiting information (e.g.,
bulleted lists, steps in instructions, etc.) to groups of
no more than 7 points. Has anyone followed up on Miller's
research to demonstrate that this principle extends beyond
memorizing phone numbers? (I'd dearly love to obtain the
literature citation for any such study so that I can follow
up on this subject.)

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.


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