Theories of forgetting: Interference theory


Theories of forgetting: Interference theory

  • Interference theory is an explanation of forgetting in terms of one memory disrupting the ability to recall another
  • This is most likely to occur when the two memories have some similarity
  • It has been proposed mainly as an explanation of forgetting LTM

Types of interference

  • It is very likely that the two memories interfering with each other were stored at different times. Psychologists recognise that there are two types of interference:
    • Proactive interference= occurs when an older memory interferes with a newer one
    • Retroactive interference= happens when a newer memory interferes with an older one
  • In both proactive and retroactive interference, the interference is worse when the memories are similar
  • McGeoch and McDonald:
    • ppts had to learn a list of ten words until they could recall them with 100% accuracy
    • They then had to learn a new list of words
    • There were six groups whom all learned different types of lists:
      • Synonyms
      • Antonyms- words with opposite meanings to the originals
      • Words unrelated to the original ones
      • Nonsense syllables
      • Three-digit numbers
      • No new list- ppts just rested


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