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The interference theory of forgetting
The theory states that during interference forgetting, material or
information blocks the memory of other material or information,
preventing it from being remembered. Or, the memories interact with
each other and become confused.
There are 3 types of interference:
However proactive interference and retroactive inference occur more often in
Proactive interference is when something learned earlier interferes
with current learning.
Retroactive interference is when something learned later gets in the
way of something gets in the way of something learned previously.
Output is when the act of retrieval interferes with the retrieval of the
actual information needed in the first place. This is normally caused by
the limited capacity of the short-term memory.
If you learn Spanish, and then learn French, if learning French stops you from
remembering the Spanish word for something that is retroactive interference.
If your knowledge of Spanish interferes with your ability to learn French then
that is proactive interference.
Jenkins and Dallenback (1924) carried out an interference experiment
to test the idea that interference causes forgetting.
Participants were given 10 nonsense syllables to learn (eg BOH or INJ.
Some participants slept after learning and others carried on with their
Those who stayed awake did not remember as much as those who slept.
The researchers claimed that this was because sleeping had not caused
interference whereas the day's activities had and that interference
There is a lot of evidence to support the theory e.g. Jenkins and
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It has been tested by experiment giving cause- and affect relationships,
experiments have been replicated and appear reliable.
It is hard to separate interference from displacement and trace decay; it
can be shown that interference seems to happen but not why this
happens or what occurs
Tasks used in the experiments are artificial and lack validity.…read more