In 1969, Collins and Quillian theorized that information is represented in the form of concepts that are connected in web-like forms known as semantic network. A semantic network is made up of elements of meanings or concepts. These elements are called nodes, and the connection between the nodes is called relationships. These relationships are the representation of categories such as membership (an elephant is a mammal), attributes (big and furry to mammal), or some other semantic relationship. The relationship connecting the nodes creates links to form and organize concepts. Collin and Quillian suggested that the network is created in a hierarchical manner based on the linguistics, moving from simple to complex relationships as found below in the image.
The concepts are represented as nodes such as cat, fur, whale, etc., and they are connected through links or relationship arrows such as â€˜hasâ€™, â€˜is aâ€™, â€˜is anâ€™.
In a study, people were asked to find statements that were true. For example, â€˜Dolphin is a fishâ€™, â€˜Dolphin is an animalâ€™. Results showed that people took more time to identify statements that were linguistically distant or complex. The participants instantly identified Dolphin as a fish but took more time to decide if Dolphin is an animal or not. However, the hierarchy model is criticized by cognitive psychologists as they suggest that semantic encoding is far more complex than simply structuring and creating hierarchy in concepts.
Comparing Semantic Features:
In 1974, comparison of semantic features was proposed as an alternative model to Collin and Quillianâ€™s hierarchy model. According to this model, knowledge is organized based on comparison of semantic features as opposed to hierarchy. Here, the concepts do not form the basis for developing a category, rather they are compared directly. For example, instead of describing a rabbit (fur, eyes, size, etc.), to understand that it is a mammal, it is directly compared to other mammals. It can be compared with an elephant in terms of size or a lion in terms of ferocity. However, the comparison model also attracts criticisms. It does not explain the process of how the comparison occurs empirically.
Ways of Semantic Encoding:
Mnemonics is an organization technique that is used to remember anything and mostly used to encode simple materials and to remember information in a particular order. Two common methods of applying mnemonics are the peg-word system and acronyms. The pegs refer to words that are simple and easy that can be used to remember the actual word by associating with the actual word. Acronym is a technique in which the initial letters of the words alone are used to create an abbreviation. For example, National Aeronautics and Space Administration is abbreviated as NASA.
Chunking refers to breaking the data to small parts that are meaningful and easier to remember. One chunk will be remembered as a unit of the whole picture. These chunks are later recalled as a whole picture. For example, breaking a series of numbers to small chunks.
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