George Armitage Miller was born February 3, 1920 in America, West Verginia. George Miller began his academic career studying English philology and linguistics at the University of Alabama. He received his master's degree in 1941 also in the field of linguistics. However, while still a student, he became interested in psychology. Once he was assigned to conduct introductory classes in psychology in 16 student groups - moreover, he had never before seriously engaged in psychology. He later said that by repeating the same material 16 times in one week, he truly believed in himself.
Later he worked at Harvard University in a psycho-acoustic laboratory, dealing with the problems of speech communication, where he received his doctorate. He completely immersed himself in the study of the problems of psycholinguistics and in 1951 published a book entitled “Language and Communication”. During this period of creativity, Miller adhered to behavioral positions, noting later that, in fact, the choice was small, since in all universities and professional organizations the leading role was played by behaviorists.
In the mid-1950s, he became interested in using statistical methods to study the learning process, information theory, and computer modeling of the thinking process. During this period, he concludes that behaviorism, as he put it, “fizzles out”. The similarities between thinking and computer operations shocked Miller so much that his interests began to shift toward a more cognitively oriented psychology. Just at the same time, he was allergic to animal hair and their excretion, which meant that he could no longer work with laboratory mice. He could now only work with man - a big flaw in the world where behaviorists rule.
The transition to the position of cognitive psychology was also facilitated by Miller's rebellious spirit, so characteristic of the representatives of a new generation of psychologists. They were ready to rebel against everything that they had been taught at the university, for the sake of creating a new approach, focusing not on behavior, but on the process of cognition.
Together with his colleague Jerome Bruner, Miller created a research center at Harvard University, the purpose of which was to study the processes of human thinking. The Centre was called the “Center for Cognitive Technologies”. The main questions that were studied at the Center for Cognitive Technologies were the study of the features of language, memory, processes of perception and formation of concepts, thinking and psychology of human development as a whole. A little later, Miller and his followers created a program of cognitive research at Princeton University. It was a combination of persistent searches and new methods that allowed psychologists to replenish and improve knowledge about the processes of perception, memory, the nerve basis of cognition, thinking and information processing. Thus, we can say that cognitive psychology affects almost all spheres of human cognition. George Miller's most famous work is The Magic Number Seven Plus or Minus Two, which was published in 1956 by Psychological Review. This number is also called the Ingve-Miller number.
During his scientific work, George Miller conducted research in which experiments were conducted, the purpose of which was to study the memory parameters of the examined operators. According to the results of these experiments, Miller discovered the fact that short-term human memory is able to memorize on average:
- 9 binary numbers;
- 8 decimal numbers;
- not more than 7 letters of the alphabet;
- 5 monosyllables.
Thus, we can conclude that a person is able to simultaneously remember 7 ± 2 elements. This pattern was stated in his work and received its scientific justification.
Representatives of the theory of cognitive development of a person’s personality believed that a person is a complex system that obeys certain rules and norms in the process of its development. In their studies, they emphasized that in the process of forming the latest concepts that swing the structure of the human brain, the structure and basic functions of the human psyche, it is necessary to combine the efforts and results of scientific research of specialists from different fields of knowledge and use the latest techniques in the process of studying. The main source of these techniques, they considered the methods involved in the study of computers and computers.
Based on the foregoing, the main tasks of cognitive psychology were identified, which consist in studying the process of obtaining information from people around us, storing it in the human mind, presenting it to it and transforming it into internal knowledge, which in turn affects human attention and behavior. The process of information processing is the main approach to the study of cognitive psychology. The human cognitive system is considered as a system that has certain input, storage, and output information devices taking into account its bandwidth.
This was no longer behaviorism. The new position went far beyond the prevailing dogma, the "establishment." Creating the center, its founders sought to express only one thing - how far they are from behaviorism. As we have seen before, each new current begins with what separates itself from previous concepts. Such a distinction is a necessary stage of development, followed by the answer to the question “Who are we?” and "Where are we going?"
Despite the whole revolutionary spirit of cognitive psychology, Miller still did not consider this a real scientific revolution. He used the term "organic growth" - change through slow growth or accumulation. He believed that development is predominantly evolutionary, not revolutionary. From this point of view, a new direction is a return to the psychology of common sense, for which it was quite obvious that psychology should deal not only with behavior, but also with the problems of mental life.
The new Center for Cognitive Research was engaged in the development of a wide range of diverse topics: language, memory, processes of perception and formation of concepts, thinking and developmental psychology - most of which have completely disappeared from the behavioral dictionary. Miller later organized a cognitive research program at Princeton University.
In recognition of his merits, Miller was elected as President of the American Psychological Association in 1969 and awarded the Distinguished Contribution to Science Award and Gold Medal in Applied Psychology. But perhaps the most significant recognition of his contribution was a wide network of diverse laboratories of cognitive psychology, which arose after the rapid development of the new direction formulated by him.
George died recently, June 22, 2012 in the United States, in the age of 92. Miller's proposals significantly influenced the subsequent study of cognitive psychology, which ultimately led to the development and validation of psychometric tests for the study of memory and other cognitive processes.
Пинкер С. “Джордж А. Миллер (1920–2012). Некрологи. Американская Психологическая Ассоциация”, 2012
Miller G. “The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information”, Psychological Review, 1956
[Электронный ресурс] Джордж А. Миллер. Энциклопедия Британика, ссылка: https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-A-Miller
[Электронный ресурс] PsychologyOnLine.Net, Джордж А. Миллер. Когнитивная революция с исторической точки зрения, ссылка: https://www.psychology-online.net/articles/doc-980.html