In this learning portfolio I will be discussing the benefits of “Performance Load” in relation to chunking. Chunking is the idea that information should be broken into sections; in both professional careers and life on a broader perspective. ‘Performance Load’ outlines that the more workload the one receives, the more errors will one make. The harder the task the less motivation, therefore it is imperative that tasks be broken down (Sousa, 2006).

All information needs to be thought out on a basic level, working on no more than one task at a time to avoid confusion. Use of memory aids and the chunking of information make for a less overwhelming pursuit in relation to achieving a set task. Excuses make it easy for the cognitive process to outweigh the kinematic process; when completing a task there should be less thinking and more doing. The task should not just be thought about, but also acted out, as this will require less mental energy. When I think of the ‘performance load’ theory I use the analogy of trying to get to the top of a building, it is easier to take it step by step, rather than hesitating in trying to jump over 7 steps at once, in which your most likely to fall (Baine, 1986).

What is chunking?

Chunking is the act of organising information into separate parts, which in turn make a large task more manageable. Chunking makes efficient use of short term memory in relation to receiving and communicating information. The term ‘chunking’ was coined by Harvard psychologist George A, Miller in 1956 (“Chunking Principle,” n.d.).

“Research suggests that human beings can understand and remember no more than seven plus or minus two items of information at a time. This phenomenon is called the “chunking limit”. Further, as the complexity of the information increases the chunking limit decreases”(“Chunking Principle,” n.d.).

George Miller conducted a study of short-term memory, in which he recorded the human capacity to remember a group of numbers, several minutes after they had been initially communicated. George Millers results are expressed within his related journal article title “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” with the results concluding that humans can only remember 7 items, with plus or minus two. It is wise to cater for this theory when distributing a formal document or presentation, for example, limiting the number of ideas or points to 9 per slide. Information that is presented in an effective way will have a greater chance of being interpreted on a broader scale. Categorising information will also make for effective communication (“Chunking Principle,” n.d.).

Baxy Ice- Cream, n.d.

One could relate the “chunking” theory into a hypothetical of having ten tubs of ice-cream in the freezer. If the lids on the ice-cream tubs are labelled, they become easier to differentiate between one another. However, if all the lids are the same we will suddenly descend into confusion, and have to go through the overwhelming process of checking under each lid to find our desired flavour. Once the ice-creams are put into categories we can quickly distinguish one flavour from another. Ice-cream labels make life easier for the consumer, just as ‘chunking’ saves time and allows information to be easily processed.

Imprtance of Psychology in Design

A study of psychology is fundamental in designing a web page or marketing a product. The consumer’s are always the most important element, therefore many companies understand the importance of singling out a target market, before selecting a design principle. Not understanding consumer behaviour may have chaotic consequences when making a  web design, or marketing a product (Sousa, 2006).

Coca-Cola successfully exploits the psychology of the consumer, with Christmas advertisements of Santa Claus giving children the notion that ‘If Santa is drinking coke then I should be drinking coke’. As the children process the advertisement it inturn has a domino effect with the mother or father often giving in to a nagging child. Coca-cola also exploits the notion of Australian culture on their website, in which they associate their product with the beach, hoping that customers in turn associate coke with Australian culture. Both these examples are evidence that Coca-Cola have undertaken an in depth study of psychology, and in turn consumer behaviour (Sousa, 2006).

Everyday Examples of Chunking


Mi Goreng provides simple instructions as to how to cook the noodles. The instructions are short and simple so it is not too daunting for the consumer. There are also pictures on the packet, which gives an idea of the kinematic process that needs to be carried out.

Indomie, n.d.


When putting together furniture that has been bought from retailers, such as IKEA, instructions will be ‘chunked’ into chapters. Rather than having one massive task, the instruction manual is broken down into various steps to assist the customer.

Ikea, n.d.



Chunking Principle. [n.d.].Retrieved May 15, 2010, from the C & A Software Engineering Website:

Chunking. [n.d.].Retrieved May 15, 2010, from the Communications from Skills Training MindTools:

Baine, D. (1986). Memory and Instruction. New Jersey: Educational Technology

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 148-149). Massachusetts: Rockport

n.d. Baxy Ice-Cream. Retrieved 15 May, 2010 from:

n.d. Indomie. Retrieved 15 May, 2010 from:

n.d. Ikea. Retrieved 15 May, 2010 from:

Sousa, D. (2006). How the brain learns. London: Sage