Evaluation of Trace Decay Theory of Forgetting

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  • Evaluation of Trace Decay Theory of Forgetting
    • There is experimental evidence to support the theory
      • Peterson & Peterson (1959): participants recalled fewer items the longer the delay before recall
        • Less than 10% of information was recalled after 18 seconds of delay
    • Can criticise the supporting experimental research; highly controlled and artificial so the findings might not be valid in the real world
    • Useful application in terms of reducing forgetting and improving memory
      • Students could be advised to practice remembering information that they need for exams; reinforcing the engram
        • Evidence from other studies, i.e. those supporting the levels of processing framework, suggests that rehearsal isn't the most effective method; elaboration of information is more effective
    • Very simplistic; cannot explain why people do remember information from a long time ago, eg. childhood memories which are not rehearsed
      • More up-to-date theories such as cue dependency theory suggest more detailed and sophisticated explanations of why we forget some and not other information
    • Doesn't give a sufficient explanation for why we forget from long term memory
      • Cannot explain how information in the ltm is still accessible if the correct cues are used; seems that information in the ltm is never permanently lost
    • Effectively explains how forgetting occurs from the short term memory
      • Information is not available because the information has not been rehearsed and so the traces are already lost


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