Richard Atkinson

Richard Atkinson

Psychologist, representative of cognitive psychology
Date of Birth: 19.03.1929
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Richard Atkinson
  2. Academic Career
  3. Contributions to Cognitive Psychology

Biography of Richard Atkinson

Richard Atkinson is a psychologist and a representative of cognitive psychology. He is well-known for his research on verbal-acoustic short-term memory and long-term semantic memory. He attended the University of Chicago in 1944, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948. In 1955, he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in philosophy at Indiana University.

Academic Career

After completing his studies, Atkinson began his academic career. From 1956 to 1957, he taught applied and statistical mathematics at Stanford University in California. He then served as an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1957 to 1961. Following this, he held the position of associate professor of psychology at Stanford University from 1961 to 1964. In 1964, he became a professor of psychology at Stanford University, a position he held until 1980.

In 1980, Atkinson joined the University of California, San Diego, where he worked as a professor of cognitive science and served as the university chancellor. Additionally, he held leadership roles at the National Science Foundation, serving as the deputy director from 1975 to 1976 and as the director from 1976 to 1980. In 1974, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Contributions to Cognitive Psychology

Atkinson is known for his research on verbal-acoustic short-term memory and long-term semantic memory. He proposed a three-component model of memory in 1968, which suggests that information initially enters sensory registers where it is stored for a fraction of a second in a precise form that closely represents the external stimulus. If the task requires it, the information is then transferred to a short-term storage, where it is constantly refreshed through rehearsal for several seconds. Finally, it can be transferred to long-term storage, where it is stored in a semantic form (in conceptual codes) for an extended period of time.

However, some researchers have criticized Atkinson's theory, particularly regarding the assumption that information is stored in different forms in different memory systems (D. Deutsch, R. Shepard). Despite these criticisms, Atkinson's contributions to cognitive psychology have significantly advanced our understanding of memory processes.