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Forgetting is the loss of ability to recall or recognise something that has previously been learnt. There is two explanations for forgetting, these are: Interference and retrieval failure.


The above is when one memory disrupts the ability to recall another, this is most likely to occur when the two memories are quite similar.

Proactive interference is the old memory interfering with the new memory, (pro = going forward).

Retroactive interference is where currant attempts to learn something interferes with past learning, (Retro = going backwards).

Supporting Studies

Retroactive interference: Ps given nonsense syllabels to learn for six minutes. Some Ps were then given a task in which they had to describe three paintings. Other Ps had no task. Recall was found to be poorer for Ps who repeated the task because describing the paintings produced retroactive interference.

Proactive interference when Ps have to learn a series of word lists, they do not learn the lists of words later on in the series as well as the lists of words at the beginning. Ps that learn one list remembered 70% 24 hours later, Ps that learnt 10+ lists remembered 20% 24 hours later. Each list makes its harder to recall subsequent lists demonstrating proactive interference.

Real world study: Rugby players were ask to recall names of teams that they had played against over a season. Some players had played in all games whilst others had missed games due to injury. The time from the start to the end of the


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