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In psychology, rehearsal refers to the cognitive process of repeatedly practicing or going over information to improve memory retention. This concept is a key component of working memory and long-term memory models, where it serves as a fundamental technique for transferring information from short-term to long-term memory.


Rehearsal can be divided into two main types: maintenance rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal. Maintenance rehearsal involves the simple repetition of information, such as repeating a phone number over and over to keep it in short-term memory long enough to dial it. This type of rehearsal helps to keep information active in working memory but is less effective for long-term retention.

Elaborative rehearsal, on the other hand, involves linking new information with existing memories and knowledge, making it more meaningful and therefore easier to remember long-term. This might include creating associations, forming mental images, or constructing narratives around the information. Elaborative rehearsal is considered much more effective for deep learning and long-term memory storage.

Application Areas

Rehearsal is utilized across various areas of psychology, including:

  • Educational psychology: Techniques are developed to help students employ effective rehearsal strategies for academic learning.
  • Cognitive psychology: Explores the mechanisms behind rehearsal and its effects on memory and information processing.
  • Clinical psychology: Uses rehearsal methods in cognitive rehabilitation strategies for patients with memory impairments due to injury or illness.

Well-Known Examples

Key studies and theories involving rehearsal include:

  • Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model: This model describes how memories are formed and stored, highlighting the role of rehearsal in transferring information from short-term to long-term memory.
  • Levels of processing theory by Craik and Lockhart: This theory suggests that the depth of processing affects memory retention, with deeper, more elaborative processing leading to better recall.

Treatment and Risks

In therapeutic and educational settings, rehearsal techniques are used to enhance memory and learning, particularly among those with learning disabilities or memory impairments. The risk associated with rehearsal is that if used incorrectly (e.g., relying solely on maintenance rehearsal), it may not lead to effective learning or long-term memory retention.

Similar Terms

Related terms in psychology include:

  • Encoding: The process of converting information into a form that can be stored in memory, of which rehearsal is a part.
  • Memory consolidation: The process by which temporary memories are gradually converted into a more permanent form, often involving rehearsal.

Articles with 'Rehearsal' in the title

  • Behavior rehearsal: Behavior rehearsal refers to a general technique for expanding the patient's repertoire of coping behaviors. Successful Behavioral rehearsal involves explaining to the patient the necessity of acquiring the new behaviors, selecting the targ . . .
  • Behavioral rehearsal: Behavioral rehearsal means role-playing. Behavioral rehearsal is a term that is usually used in cases where the patient is trying to develop a new response pattern
  • Cognitive rehearsal: Cognitive rehearsal refer to a means of using imagination to think about having a positive interaction or experience. For example, to imagine a positive interaction with one's future in-laws
  • Cumulative rehearsal: Cumulative rehearsal is a term used in memory research that refers to a type of rehearsal in which a person repeats the most recently presented word and then rehearses it with as many other different words as possible
  • Passive rehearsal: Passive rehearsal refers to a style of rehearsing in which a person includes few, often one unique items per rehearsal set. Passive rehearsal is contrast with Cumulative rehearsal


In psychology, rehearsal is a crucial cognitive strategy for enhancing memory retention. It involves the repetition and processing of information to facilitate its transfer from working memory to long-term storage. Understanding and applying effective rehearsal techniques are vital for improving learning outcomes and aiding those with memory challenges.


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