Miller's law

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Miller's law can refer to three different principles.

In communication[edit]

Miller's law, part of his theory of communication, was formulated by George Miller, Princeton Professor and psychologist.

It instructs us to suspend judgment about what someone is saying so we can first understand them without imbuing their message with our own personal interpretations.

The law states: "To understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of."[1][2]

The point is not to blindly accept what people say, but to do a better job of listening for understanding. "Imagining what it could be true of" is another way of saying to consider the consequences of the truth, but to also think about what must be true for the speaker's "truth" to make sense.

In psychology[edit]

The observation, also by George Miller, that the number of objects an average person can hold in working memory is about seven,[3] also known as The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two.

In software development[edit]

Miller's Law was formulated by Mike Beltzner and is named in respect of Dave Miller, long-standing owner of the Bugzilla product:

"All discussions of incremental updates to Bugzilla will eventually trend towards proposals for large scale redesigns or feature additions or replacements for Bugzilla."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Language in Emergency MEDICINE". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  2. ^ "What is Miller's Law and what is it for?". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Miller, G. A. (1956). "The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information". Psychological Review. 63 (2): 81–97. PMID 13310704. doi:10.1037/h0043158. 
  4. ^ "Miller’s Law". Retrieved 10 December 2015.