What Is Clustering?

How grouping information can make memorization easier

Child using clustering to memorize information
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Clustering involves organizing information in memory into related groups. Memories are naturally clustered into related groupings during recall from long-term memory. So it makes sense that when you are trying to memorize information, putting similar items into the same category can help make recall easier.

How Does the Clustering Process Work?

Have you ever tried memorizing a long list of words? Imagine that you are trying to remember lists of vocabulary words for a biology class.

One way to make it easier to remember the items on your list is to break it down into smaller groups of related items. Instead of simply trying to remember the entire list in rote form, you might cluster information into smaller groupings according to whether the items are related to topics such as cell division, genetics, ecology, or microbiology.

How to Use Clustering to Remember More

This strategy can be used effectively when trying to memorize long lists of information. For example, imagine that you are trying to memorize a long grocery list. One way of making the information more manageable would be to cluster items into related groups. For example, you might make separate clusters for vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and dairy items.

Let's take a look at another example of clustering. Read the following list of words:

grapes table bus apple chair airplane desk banana sofa car train plum lamp motorcycle strawberry dresser bicycle peach

Chances are that you automatically grouped these items into three clusters: fruits, furniture and modes of transportation. Consider how difficult it would be to try to memorize the above list of words in order of presentation. By reorganizing the information and connecting each item to related items, you would be much more likely to remember more.

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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