Explanations for forgetting: Retrieval failure

  • AO1:
  • Retrieval failure due to the absence of cues:
  • When information is initially placed in memory, associated cues are stored at the same time. If these cues aren't available at the time of recall, you might not be able to access the memories that are actually there. 
  • Tulving suggested that cues help retrieval if the same cues are present at encoding (i.e. 'coding', when we learn the material) and at retrieval (when we are recalling it). The closer the retrieval cue to the origional cue, the better the cue works. Some cues are linked to the material to be remembered in a meaningful way. 
  • Other cues are also encoded at the time if learning but not in a meaningful way: Context-dependent forgetting - when memory retrieval is dependent on an external/environmental cue. State dependent forgetting - when memory retrieval is dependent on an internal cue, state of mind. 
  • Key Study - Godden and Baddeley: Context-dependent forgetting:
  • Procedure - In this study the divers learned a list of words either underwater or on land. This therefore created 4 conditions:
  • Learn on land - recall on land.
  • Learn underwater - recall underwater.
  • Learn on land - recall underwater.
  • Learn underwater - recall on land. 
  • Findngs - Accurate recall was 40% lower in the non-matching conditions. The external cues vailable at learning were different from the ones at recall and this led to retrieval failure. 
  • Key study  - Carter and Cassaday: State dependent forgetting:
  • Procedure - They gave anti-histamine drugs to their


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