Explanations to forgetting: retrieval failure

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  • Explanations to forgetting: Retrieval failure theory
    • Occurs due to the absence of cues, an explanation based on the idea that the issue relates to being able to retrieve a memory this is available but not accessible.
      • Cues: things that act as a reminder, they may be meaningfully linked to the material to be remembered or may not be meaningfully linked, such as environmental cues or cues related to your mental state
      • Forgetting in LTM is mainly due to retrieval failure (lack of accessibility rather than availability) This is the failure to find an item of information because you have insufficient clues or cues.
    • State-dependant forgetting
      • The mental you are in at the time of learning also acts as a cue. GOODWIN ET AL: asked male volunteers to remember lists of words when they were drunk or sober, the pps asked to recall lists 24 hours later when sober and some drunk.
        • the recall scores suggested that info learned when drunk is more available when in the same state.
    • The encoding specificity principle
      • TULVING&PEARLSTONE: pps had to learn 48 words belonging to 12 categories, each word presented as category+word. One group had to recall as many words they could(free recall) the other were given cures in the form of category names (cued recall)
        • In the free recall condition, 40% of words were recalled, cued recall: 60%
          • This is evidence that cues have been explicitly or implicitly encoded at the time of learning and have a meaningful link to the learning material
    • Context dependant forgetting
      • GODDEN AND BADDELEY: Researchers recruited scuba divers and arranged them to learn a set of words either on land or underwater. They were then tested on land or water and results showed that the highest recall occured when the initial context matched recall environment.
    • Real world application: ABERNETHY's research shows that you should revise in the same room where you will be taking the exams- could use imagination to achieve this.
      • SMITH: showed that just thinking of the room where you did the original learning was as effective
        • Therefore these studies show real life application to using this explanation as a way of improving memory and increases ecological validity of research.
    • JAMES NAIRNE: criticised what he calls the 'myth of encoding' he claims the relationship between encoding cues and later retrieval is a correlation rather than a cause, cues don't cause retrieval, just an association.
      • We cannot draw cause and effect, conclusions suggest an association whereby a third factor is involved.


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