The Myth of Seven

Samurai use swords, not bullets

It’s been 50+ years since Dr. George Miller published The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information (1956) in The Psychological Review. Over the years, many people (knowingly or not) have used this article to support the notion that you should, for example, limit the number of items in a list to seven, the number of bullets on a slide to seven, or the number of steps in a procedure to seven (all plus or minus two, of course). Dr. Miller made many comments on this misinterpretation for many years, including the following statement: “7 was a limit for the discrimination of unidimensional stimuli (pitches, loudness, brightness, etc.) and also a limit for immediate recall, neither of which has anything to do with a person’s capacity to comprehend printed text.”

Some comments and correspondence between Mike Halpern and George Miller can be found at

By |2017-09-18T22:54:36+00:00June 30th, 2010|The Data Blog|Comments Off on The Myth of Seven

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