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A Factor Analysis of Memory Ability

Kelley, H. Paul
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Cognitive Measurement, Factor Structure, Memory, Retention (Psychology), Short-Term Memory


The purpose of this study is to investigate the area in the memory domain concerning relatively immediate intentional retention. For memory tests limited to this area, is there a general memory factor; if not, can several distinct memory factors be identified? A battery of 27 memory tests, at Lackland Air Force Base. together with 13 reference tests, were administered to 442 pilot cadets Eleven factors were found, three of which are rather clearly- defined memory factors ; they may be called Rote Memory, Meaningful defined memory factors; they may be called Rote Memory, Meaningful Memory, and Span Memory. The reference tests clearly identify three other factors as Verbal Comprehension, Numerical Facility, and Perceptual Speed. The seventh factor is a doublet representing the specific variance of two parallel tests. The eighth factor is a triplet which cannot be positively identified. The remaining three factors all primarily seem to involve visual tasks. These factors seem to represent Visualization, Spatial Relations, and Visual Memory, but the identifications are uncertain since there seems to be confounding with Deductive Reasoning and Psychomotor Coordination. It has been established that in the area of immediate intentional retention there is no general factor; three distinct factors in this domain were clearly identified, while still others were suggested. The three memory factors found seem to be differentiated in terms of process rather than in terms of content or mode of presentation.

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