Chunking what is that exactly


This article explains Chunking in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful tool for psychology and memory engineering . Roll your eyes further in this article…

What is the Chunking method?

Chunking is a method related to cognitive psychology. In the chunking process, individual pieces of a particular set of information are broken down and then grouped into a meaningful and logical whole.

Chunking is a mnemonic technique. A mnemonic technique is a technique that a person can use to improve the ability of his or her memory. It is simply a shortcut that allows humans to link information to be remembered to an image, sentence, word or other mnemonic.

What is Chunking’s purpose?

The purpose of Chunking by splitting information is to hold information in the short term. As a result, the limited storage capacity of human working memory is passed. A chunk, or chunk, is a collection of basic units grouped and stored in a person’s memory.

These chunks can be easily recalled in memory because of their familiarity. The items are more easily remembered in a group than individual items themselves. The chunks of information can be highly subjective because they depend on a person’s perceptions and past experiences. The size of so-called chunks varies, but the total often consists of two to seven items.

How did Chunking as a psychology tool come about?

In 1956, Harvard University professor George Miller published an article entitled The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Information Processing. In it, he described the results of a series of cognitive experiments that he conducted with his colleagues. Miller found that people could usually remember between five and nine pieces of information. Seven was and is the average.

Of course, mnemonic techniques were used long before this time. Some of these techniques date back to ancient Greek times. Today everyone uses these techniques.

Core elements of the chunking method

Fourteen years after George Miller’s research, Neal Johnson came up with an article outlining four main concepts of the memory process and chunking. These are: chunk, memory code, decoding and recoding. The chunk, as discussed earlier, is the series of pieces of information to be remembered. These items are stored in memory code. In recoding, one learns the code for a chunk, and in decoding, the code is translated back into the information it represents.

The phenomenon of chunking as a memory mechanism is easy to observe in everyday life. Take, for example, the way people group numbers and information by remembering telephone numbers or addresses. A phone number such as 14121998 can be easily remembered by dividing it into 14, 12 and 1998. For example, the number is stored as December 14, 1998 instead of a series of individual digits. Others divide the number into pieces of 3, others into pieces of 2.

How does Chunking improve memory?

A 2019 study from the University of Zurich describes how chunking as a memory mechanism affects memory. This research tested whether chunking indeed helps to circumvent the limited capacity of working memory. The experiments that the researchers conducted showed that chunking could not only store and recall bits of information, but also non-chunked information that was stored simultaneously. This supports the assumption that chunking partly relieves working memory.

In addition, the researchers were answered whether the size of the chunks with information influences these benefits. As long as the pieces of information remain linked, the size of the piece of information had no influence. Only when pieces of information have to be remembered that are not linked to each other, does the size of the chunk determine the effectiveness with which it can be stored.

How do I practice Chunking?

For many students and professionals, Chunking is one of the best ways to memorize bits of information. However, not all chunks have the same level of difficulty and so some pieces require more attention than others. The same goes for someone who learns to play the piano by hearing and playing. A beginner will listen to the piece several times and learn to play it piece by piece.

Chunking as a reminder is not difficult to perform. Identifying the chunks is probably the trickiest part of the Chunking process. Below is a step-by-step plan. Follow this step-by-step plan and learn to remember information in a new way within four steps.

Get started with Chunking

Whether it’s a high school history exam, the key points of a meeting or a briefing from colleagues, Chunking can be used wherever things need to be remembered. Follow the 4-step plan below to use this memory mechanism yourself.

Step 1: Identify the chunks

First, it is important to select the right pieces of information. Students may receive a timeline of dates and events to learn from their history teacher. The piano student may have to practice with large octave jumps in a piece of music that he has to practice in advance. Immediately circle these parts. When all pieces of information have been covered, the pieces can be learned.

Step 2: don’t rush

Do not expect what you are learning to be completed in a session, depending on the situation. There is a reason people are learning bits of information: often what they learn is difficult. Sometimes it is necessary for someone to sleep a night before he or she can continue with the next piece. If necessary, plan the week in which you learn a different bit on each day and repeat the previous bit.

Step 3: Start slow

Just because the big picture only consists of 5 pieces of information, that doesn’t mean you have to go through it at a fast pace and hope your memory keeps up. Start slowly and make sure there are no mistakes in what you have learned. Make sure that the sequence is correct, that the pieces are related and that what you have learned is well anchored in the memory.

Step 4: Integrate with existing pieces

Each piece must then be connected to the rest of the pieces. Many people forget this last step. As a result, the transition of pieces is messy. When it comes to playing the piano, it seems as if the pianist needs a short pause between the different parts to switch to the next part. To transition seamlessly from piece to piece, a different strategy is used: chaining. Each chunk is made a bit bigger so that in the end everything consists of 1 chunk.

The relationship between expertise and memory capacity

Several studies have shown that people are better able to remember things when they try to remember things they are familiar with. Likewise, people tend to make chunks out of information they are familiar with. This level of familiarity makes people better able to remember more chunks, but also more specific content of those chunks of information.

A well-known experiment was conducted by Chase and Ericsson. They worked with students for two years to see if a person’s grade range could be extended through practice. One student was a long-distance runner. By splitting a series of numbers into race times, his range of numbers was extended. Where 7 numbers is normal, this student managed to memorize 80 numbers by linking them to race times. The student later stated that he could expand his strategy by including ages and years in the pieces of information. This made it easier for him to remember the kibble.

It is important to state that a person who has no knowledge of a particular expert domain such as race times would have had a harder time memorizing so many numbers using this method.

Alternative mnemonic techniques

In addition to dividing information into pieces with the Chunking technique, there are a few other mnemonic techniques. The most common are briefly explained below.

Loci method

Loci’s method is a reminder from the time of the ancient Greeks. This makes it one of the oldest information retention techniques we know today. Using it is simple. Imagine a house that you are familiar with. You can divide the house into different rooms.

These different rooms represent information objects that must be remembered. Another example is to use a route. It is useful to choose a known route such as the route from home to work. Different landmarks along the way then represent pieces of information.


Another mnemonic technique is the use of acronyms. An acronym is a word formed from the first letters or groups of letters in a name or phrase. An acrostic is a series of lines from which certain letters, such as the first letters of all lines, come from a word or phrase. These techniques are used as a mnemonic by memorizing the first letters of certain words.

Examples of acronyms are: EFQM Model, RACI Model, ADKAR Model, PEST Model, ADDIE Model, SWOT Model and more.


A rhyme is a saying with similar rhyme patterns. These terminal sounds can appear at the end of the line or at a different place in the sentence. Rhymes are easy to remember because they are stored in acoustic coding in the brain.


Visualizations are a very effective way of learning information. Language and visualisations are often used to remember word pairs such as green grass, yellow sun, blue water, etc. The Loci method is also a form of using visualisations. By remembering specific images, it can help people to remember information associated with this image.

Chunking Summary

Chunking is a memory mechanism that helps people learn to remember information by breaking it down into small pieces. Chunking is a mnemonic technique. A mnemonic technique means that it helps people to improve the capacity of the memory. By using chunking, the regular working memory of the brain is relieved. Chunks, or pieces of related information, can be more easily remembered than individual pieces of information. A chunk usually consists of two to seven items.

Chunking is often used in everyday life. An example of this is the way people memorize telephone numbers. One learns the number in groups of 2, the other turns the number into a date, and the other learns the number digit by digit.

Chunking is very easy to apply and practice. It is important that the complete body of information first identifies the most important things to learn. Depending on the amount of information and the size of the pieces, make sure that a good planning is made that describes the activity for each day. Start slowly, make sure there are no mistakes in the learning, repeat and use chaining to link the pieces together.
Chase and Ericsson conducted an experiment among students for two years. This showed that a long-distance runner was able to memorize 80 numbers when paired them with race times, ages and years. This is much more than the seven numbers usually remembered by the average person.

Besides chunking, there are some other very effective mnemonic techniques. The Loci method is the oldest of these. The method dating back to the time of the Greeks allows people to use their imagination. By dividing a known house into a number of rooms and linking information objects to them, it is easier to remember information. Acronyms is also a mnemonic technique. An acronym is a word formed from the first letters of a particular word or phrase. Rhymes are also used to remember information. Because certain syllables from each line rhyme with each other, the information is stored in the auditory part of the memory. This also relieves the working memory.

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about chunking? Do you use this memory mechanism to easily remember information? For example, how do you remember a long telephone number? What other tips can you share with us for remembering information? Which other memory trainers do you know? Do you have any tips or comments?

Share your knowledge and experience via the comment field at the bottom of this article.

If you found the article useful or practical for your own knowledge, please share it with your network. Thank you in advanced.





This article provides a practical explanation of the Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Köhler. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful psychological tool.

Gestalt Psychology: Principles, Theory And Gestalt Therapy

What is Gestalt Psychology?

‘Gestalt’ is originally a German word used to talk about the way something is put together, often translated as the ‘form’ or the whole. Gestalt psychology can be defined as a school of thought that originated in the 1920s and believes that the whole of an object or pattern is larger and more important than its parts. Gestalt psychology encourages us to see and treat the mind and behavior as a whole. This approach creates order in the chaos by combining loose information and looking for patterns.

Gestaltism / Gestalt Theory. An introduction to the psychology… | by Lukas  Oppermann | Medium

Gestalt psychology has also contributed to research into experience and perception. The aim was to understand how people give meaning to the world around them and how they find order in the disorder. According to Gestalt psychology, how people interpret what they see in the world around them depends on what they expect to see. They will look for patterns in what they see and experience.

Who are the founders of Gestalt psychology?

Gestalt psychology was developed in Germany in the early twentieth century by psychologist Max Wertheimer in collaboration with Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler. They met at the Psychological Institute of the University of Frankfurt, where Wertheimer worked as a professor and Koffka and Köhler were his assistants. At that university they also developed their own mindset, Gestalt psychology.

Wertheimer is known for a concept called the phi phenomenon. During his travels, he noticed at a train station that two separate flashing lights created the illusion of movement. Subsequently, Wertheimer became interested in the study of perception, which laid the foundation for his research into Gestalt psychology. With his research he responded to structuralism and the approach of psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who was known for dividing psychological events into separate parts. However, Wertheimer felt that the parts were related and believed in looking at the human mind and behavior as a whole.


An experiment, similar to the experience Wertheimer had with the two flashing lights at the station, was the beginning of research into Gestalt psychology. For this experiment, Wertheimer and his colleagues Koffka and Köhler focused on the concept of ‘apparent movement’. They found that when two lights blink in quick succession, an illusion of continuous movement is created. Instead of two separate lights, the person sees one light that moves from the spot of the first light to the spot of the second light. This was another result that contributed to the Gestaltists’ belief that the human mind has a way of organizing based on seeing things as a whole rather than as separate parts.

What are the main principles of Gestalt psychology?

After Gestalt Psychology was established, co-founder Kurt Koffka published ‘Principles of Gestalt Psychology’ in which he explained Gestalt theory and its principles. The following gestalt psychology principles describe the way human perception works and how we assign meaning to objects and events.

Close proximity

This principle states that when the human eye sees elements that are placed close together, we consider these elements as a set or group. An example of this is the way we read a text. When letters are grouped together, our perception is that they form a word.


A second way in which people tend to group elements in their visual field is by looking for similarities. Elements that look alike are automatically grouped together. For example, when you watch a sports game and see people wearing the same color shirts, you see them as members of the same team.


Another part of Gestalt psychology is the principle of continuation, which states that the human eye prefers to see a continuous line or movement rather than separate elements. For example, when we see a sign on a building where a tree is partly in front of the letter x, we still recognize that letter and can read the sign without any problems. We see the continuity of the lines.


This principle explains that people have a preference for complete elements. When we see things that are incomplete, we can fill in missing information to see it as complete anyway. This principle is often applied in the advertising world. Advertisers come up with incomplete statements that people can then finish. With this approach, they hope to generate interest and engage their audience more.


The principle of figure and ground shows how people distinguish between figures and the ground in their visual field. The figure is the object that is central to our visual field, the ground is less present and is placed in the background. This explains how one person’s perception of an object or situation may differ from someone else’s: it depends on what is seen as the figure and what is seen as the ground. This principle was applied by the Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin, who experimented with optical illusions.

Common destination

Another principle of Gestalt psychology is that of common destiny. When the human eye sees elements moving together in a certain direction, they are usually considered as a group. An example of a common destination is seeing children running to the playground together, thus seeing them as a whole. It is possible to separate the elements when we do this consciously.

Pragnänz’s law

It is impossible to constantly spend time and energy on everything around us. We therefore tend to arrange the elements we see as simply as possible. The human mind prefers simplicity, so we try to simplify what we perceive. For example, when we see a car, we don’t need additional information to understand what we are looking at. This is called Pragnänz’s law. Pragnänz is a German word that can be translated as brevity.

law of pragnanz | The Law of Pragnanz is the tendency to int… | Flickr

In addition to the above principles that help us understand how human perception works, Gestalt theorists also recognize that the way we see the world is also influenced by other factors, such as personality, expectations and experiences.

Example of Gestalt Psychology

The example below is used to explain Gestalt psychology:
When there is no movement, people can still perceive movement, which was also the case with the two flashing lights that led to the phi phenomenon. For example, a film consists of a series of separate images, but by playing them in quick succession, we see a continuous movement that is not actually there. According to Gestalt psychologists, this is because our brains fill in the missing information. In this example, the missing information is the gaps between the images. This shows that the ‘whole’ plays a more important role in our brain than the sum of separate parts.

Application of Gestalt Psychology

Basic Psychology

Basic psychological processes, such as perception and attention, are strongly influenced by Gestalt psychology. These basic psychological processes are fundamental and are applied to practical matters. Developments within this research area are applied, for example, in programs to improve signage to prevent accidents. This is only possible with the knowledge we have about perception.


To be able to grab the attention of the public, people in communicative and creative fields work with Gestalt psychology. For people active as an artist, journalist or designer it is important to understand how the human mind interprets images. This knowledge can help them to produce works that convey the right message to their target audience.


In order to solve a problem, you must first understand it. Gestalt psychology believes that a problem consists of parts that are related and interact with each other. To fix the problem, rearrange these parts so that you can see a new solution. This creative rearrangement of the parts of a problem is called productive thinking. Gestalt psychologists recommend applying productive thinking when addressing various challenges.


Within education, Gestalt psychology is applied to perception and problem solving. The application of gestalt psychology in education states that teachers should encourage their students to solve a problem by looking at the different parts of a problem and the interrelationships.


Gestalt psychology-based therapy is a humanistic approach in which people are seen as strong and independent beings. It looks at the functioning of the human mind from a holistic perspective where each person has his or her own thoughts, experiences and reality.

The development of Gestalt therapy began in the 1940s with psychiatrist Fritz Perls. He argued that each person has his or her own reality that is determined by our own perception, and that it is our responsibility to change our perception. This way of thinking forms the basis of Gestalt therapy, in which personal growth and identity building are central.

The Gestalt Institute in Cleveland

The Gestalt Institute in Cleveland attracts people from all over the world. The institute organizes workshops and training programs based on Gestalt principles and methodologies. The workshops and training programs focus on change, both at the individual and organizational level.

Why Your Design Works or Some Laws in Gestalt Psychology - DEV

Daily practice

Gestalt psychology can also be applied to daily practice. As indicated in this article, Gestalt psychology can be used to solve problems and stimulate creativity. In addition, being aware of Gestalt principles helps us to understand how we perceive the world, how optical illusions work and to understand our own behavior.

Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Do you understand the explanation of Gestalt psychology? Do you recognize the principles in the way you perceive things yourself? Do you recognize Gestalt psychology in the way the people around you perceive the world? Is there any way you could apply Gestalt psychology in your work or study? Are there situations where you do not perceive objects or events as a whole? Do you have any comments or tips?

Share your knowledge and experience via the comment field at the bottom of this article.

If you found the article useful or practical for your own knowledge, please share it with your network. Thank you very much in advanced.


Relativating: thinking from a dual perspective


It is often stated in managers’ profile: a perspective on work. This means that you can approach the problems in your work in a resilient way. You are enthusiastic and committed and you strive for the best results. You have faith in your people and you give them all the space they need.

But at the same time you also understand the art of letting things go when things go wrong. You will not be discouraged if it turns out differently than you had hoped. You do what you can, but don’t get frustrated by setbacks. You manage to pick up the thread again quickly.

Don’t be difficult, the art of putting things into perspective can be learned gradually. You enjoy going to work, working with your colleagues and achieving success on a regular basis. At least I assume that. I also assume that you do not cheer every day and that it does not always go so well. There is often a lot of stress involved in letting the noses point in the same direction and achieve seemingly simple goals.

Communication is not always smooth: there is misunderstanding, frustration and excitement. Your advice is ignored, you get criticism of your decisions. Employees compete for their interests and their equal. The atmosphere can sometimes be cut. The offers that you had set your mind on are rejected and hopeful projects fail. Occasionally you are completely through it and you have the idea of ​​being on your own. Sometimes it seems that everything and everyone is bothering you.

Frustrating? No, because you master the art of putting things into perspective, you don’t make them crazy anymore. Note: Shit happens! You no longer get excited about any sleepers and setbacks, because they are part of it.

You no longer get angry about the things you can’t change. And you will no longer be annoyed if choices have been made for which you are not responsible. You learn to approach every situation with maximum effort, but at the same time to be indifferent to the results.

You can once again learn and master the art of putting things into perspective.