Information Processing Theory


Information Processing Theory

George A. Miller came up with two theoretical ideas that became fundamental to cognitive psychology. One of these ideas is chunking. Chunking is where you take pieces of information and divide them up into sections. The rule that George A. Miller came up with was “seven plus or minus two, as short-term memory can only hold five to nine chunks of information at a time”. The second idea was “the concept of information processing, using a computer model of human learning”.

Why Use Information Processing Theory

Chunking: Is used to remember numbers of great importance.

* Social Security number
* Phone number
* Student Id

These numbers have nine or fewer digits in them to make it easier for us to recall them.

Concept Information Processing Theory: Can be applied as an “image” and is more sequential than chronological or ascending/descending order.

* Sequential is for example: how a book is numbered.
* Chronological is for example: what happened first in the story, second, and then third.


To apply chunking to instruction/training try taking items in your presentation and putting them into categories and then after you present or instruct in each category you can take questions from the audience or wait until the end and go through it category by category.

To apply the concept information processing theory to instruction/training you could try breaking your presentation into steps that are numbered. By doing this you are allowing them to look at your presentation one step at a time instead of one chunk of information at a time. This might be a better option if you are unsure how to effectively use chunking.


Cooper, S. (2009). George A. Miller, Information Processing. Online Website.
Retrieved from

Information Processing Theory by: Stephanie Ditmarson