Explanations for Forgetting:Interference

  • Created by: April15
  • Created on: 04-01-20 14:17

Interference theory:

  • Some forgettig takes place due to interference. This is when 2 pieces of information conflict with eachother, resulting in forgetting one or both of the pieces of information. This occurs more often in LTM.
  • Proactive interference (PI) - occurs when an older memory interferes with an newer one. 
  • Retroactive interference (RI) - occurs when a newer memory interferes with an older one. 
  • Interference is worse when the memories are similar because in PI previously stored information makes new information more difficult to remember, and in RI new information overwrites previous memories which are similar. 

Key study: McGeoch and Mdonald - Effects of similarity:

  • Procedure - They studied RI by changing the amount of similarity between 2 sets of materials. Participants were asked to learn a list of words to 100% accuracy (i.e. they could recall them perfectly). They then learned a new list. There were 6 groups. 
  • Group 1: synonyms - words with the same meanings as the origionals.
  • Group 2: antonyms - words with the opposite meanings to the origionals
  • Group 3: words unrelated to the origional ones.
  • Group 4: nonsense syllables
  • Group 5: 3-digit numbers
  • Group 6: no new list - these participants just rested (control condition). 
  • Findings - Performance depended on the nature of the second list. The most similar material (synonyms) produced the worst recall.


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