Explanations for forgetting

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  • EXPLANATIONS FOR FORGETTING
    • Interference
      • RETROACTIVE INTERFERENCE: Current attempts to learn something interfere with past learning
        • George Muller: Gave pps a list of nonsense syllable to learn for 6 minutes, after a retention interval pps were asked to recall the lists
          • Performance was less good if ops had been given an intervening task (which was to describe 3 landscape paintings)
            • The intervening task produced RI as the later task interfered with what they had previously learned
      • PROACTIVE INTERFERENCE: Past learning interferes with current attempts to learn something
        • Underwood 1957: Looked at the results of forgetting over a 24 hour period.
          • Results: He found that if people had previously learnt 15 or more wordlists then after 24 hours they remembered 20% of what they learned.
            • If they only learned 1 list, recall was over 70%
      • RESEARCH IS ARTIFICIAL: Most of it as conducted in a lab used artificial list of words = low ecological validity
      • Interference only explains SOME situations of forgetting: Special conditions are required for interference to lead to forgetting - 2 memories need to be similar
    • Retrieval Failure
      • Occurs due to the absence of cues.
        • Cues = things that serve as a reminder. They may meaningfully link to the material to be remembered or may be environmental cues or cues related to your mental state
      • Based on the idea that the issues relates to being able to retrieve a memory that is there but not accessible
      • STATE DEPENDENT FORGETTING
        • Peters & McGee - Gave half their pps a low nicotine cigarette before recalling a list of nouns.
          • Results: Pps who were in the same state the next day (having smoked or not smoked a cigarette) performed better on recognition task than those who were in a different state
            • Conclusion: the arousal caused by the cigarette helped cause a physiological context, creating a state-dependent effect
      • Theres a lot of research support including lab, field and natural experiments
      • Abernathy's research suggests that you ought to revise in the same room you'll be taking the exam
        • Smith 1979 - Just thinking of the room where you did the original learning (mental reinstatement)was effective as being in the same room at the time of retrieval
      • Retrieval cues don't always work

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