Allan Urho Paivio
is an emeritus professor of psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...
at the University of Western Ontario. He earned his Ph.D. from McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...
in 1959 and taught at the University of Western Ontario from 1963 until his retirement.
The son of Aku and Ida (Hanninen), Paivio was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario. In 1948, he won the title of "Mr. Canada" in a competition established by the International Federation of BodyBuilders
The International Federation of BodyBuilders is a competitive bodybuilding organization founded in 1946 by brothers Ben and Joe Weider and is the highest level of competitive bodybuilding in the world. Currently, the IFBB consists of seven different sub-divisions for different competitors ,...
Paivio has published approximately two hundred articles and is most known for his dual-coding theory
Dual-coding theory, a theory of cognition, was first advanced by Allan Paivio of the University of Western Ontario. The theory postulates that both visual and verbal information are processed differently and along distinct channels with the human mind creating separate representations for...
. Dual-coding theory posits that visual and verbal information are stored separately in long term memory. Dual coding theory is complemented by the theory of Alan Baddeley
Alan David Baddeley FRS, CBE is a British psychologist. He is professor of psychology at the University of York. He is known for his work on working memory, in particular for his multiple components model.-Education:...
, in which working memory
Working memory has been defined as the system which actively holds information in the mind to do verbal and nonverbal tasks such as reasoning and comprehension, and to make it available for further information processing...
is divided into a visuospatial sketchpad and a phonological loop.
Paivio’s work has implications in many areas including human factors
Human factors science or human factors technologies is a multidisciplinary field incorporating contributions from psychology, engineering, industrial design, statistics, operations research and anthropometry...
, interface design, as well as the development of educational materials.
Allan Paivio earned three degrees from McGill University between 1949 and 1959. Paivio has a Ph.D. in Psychology, and has spent over forty years in research on imagery, memory, language, cognition, and other areas. He has published approximately two hundred articles and book chapters, and five books. His last book, Imagery and Text: A Dual Coding Theory of Reading and Writing, he wrote with Mark Sadoski.
Dual coding theory
The dual coding theory (DCT), according to Paivio, suggests that visual and verbal information act as two distinctive systems. It has had its roots in the practical use of imagery as a memory aid 2500 years ago For example, one can think of a car by thinking of the word “car”, or by forming a mental image of a car. The verbal and image systems are correlated, as one can think of the mental image of the car and then describe it in words, or read or listen to works and then form a mental image. DCT identifies three types of processing: (1) representational, the direct activation of verbal or non-verbal representations, (2) referential, the activation of the verbal system by the nonverbal system or vice-versa, and (3) associative processing, the activation of representations within the same verbal or nonverbal system. A given task may require any or all of the three kinds of processing.
Verbal system units are called logogens; these units contain information that underlies our use of the word. Non-Verbal system units are called imagens. Imagens contain information that generates mental images such as natural objects, holistic parts of objects, and natural grouping of objects. Imagens operate synchronously or in parallel; thus all parts of an image are available at once. Logogens operate sequentially; words come one at a time in a syntactically appropriate sequence in a sentence. The two codes may overlap in the processing of information but greater emphasis is on one or the other. The verbal and non-verbal systems are further divided into subsystems that process information from different modalities.
Many experiments reported by Paivio and others support the importance of imagery in cognitive operations. In one experiment, participants saw pairs of items that differed in roundness (e.g., tomato, goblet) and were asked to indicate which member of the pair was rounder. The objects were presented as words, pictures, or word-picture pairs. The response times were slowest for word-word pairs, intermediate for the picture-word pairs, and fastest for the picture-picture pairs.
DCT research focused initially on memory and soon expanded to other
cognitive phenomena. Memory remains crucial, however, because it is the basis of
all knowledge and thought. The memory emphasis is further justified here because
learning and memory are at the heart of educational goals.
The effects can be explained by two DCT hypotheses. One hypothesis is that
nonverbal and verbal codes, being functionally independent, can have additive
effects on recall. For example, participants in free recall experiments are likely to
name presented objects covertly and thus create a nonverbal (pictorial) and a
verbal memory trace. They can also set up a dual verbal-nonverbal memory trace
by imaging to concrete words, but this is somewhat less likely than naming
pictures, hence the lower memory for concrete words than pictures. Abstract
words are difficult to image and hence are least likely to be dually coded. The
expected additive memory benefit of dual coding has been confirmed in numerous
experiments which also suggested that the nonverbal code is mnemonically stronger
(contributes more to the additive effect) than the verbal code.