Explanations for forgetting: Retrieval Failure


Retrieval Failure Theory

Encoding specificity principle

  • Tulving: cues most effective if present at coding and at retrieval.
  • May be a meaningful link.

Context-dependent forgetting

  • Godden and Baddeley (deep-sea divers): recall better when external contexts matched.

State-dependant forgetting

  • Carter and Cassaday (anti-histamine): recall better when internal states matched.
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Supporting evidence

  • Wide range of support.
  • Eysenck claims retrieval failure is most important reason for LTM forgetting.

Questioning context effects

  • Not forgetting unless contexts are very different.
  • E.g. on land versus under water (Baddeley).

Recall versus recognition

  • Absence of cues affects recall but not recognition.

Evaluation extra

  • Problems with the encoding specificity principle
  • Real-life applications
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