Explanations For Forgetting - Retrieval Failure Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Explanations For Forgetting - Retrieval Failure Deck (17):

What is a cue?

Any stimulus that can tigger memory


When does cue dependent forgetting occur?

Cue dependent forgetting occurs when there are insufficient cues available to trigger the memory at the time of recall. It may appear that the information has been forgotten but, in fact, this is due to to retrieval failure - information is still in long term memory but is not accessible


What is recall dependent on?

Recall is dependent upon accessing information by remembering the retrieval cue under which the information is stored


What does the Encoding Specificity principle state?

The ESP states that you are more likely to forget if the cues available during encoding are different to those during retrieval


What are the two types of forgetting?

Context-dependent forgetting and state-dependent forgetting


What is context dependent forgetting?

Context dependent forgetting occurs when the environmental cues present at encoding are absent at time of recall. These variables act as retrieval cues.


What study supports context dependent forgetting?

Godden and Baddeley


Describe Godden and Baddeley's study into context dependent forgetting

Godden and Baddeley carried out a filed experiment of deep sea divers working underwater. In this situation it is crucial - a matter of life and death- for divers to remember instructions given before diving.

Divers learned a list of words either under water or on land and then were asked to recall the words either underwater or on land.

The results shows that accurate recall was 40% lower in the non-matching conditions than matching.

This was because the external cues available at learning were different from ones at recall and this led to retrieval failure


What is state-dependent forgetting?

The mental state you are in at the time of learning can act as a cue. State dependent forgetting occurs if the internal mental state at the time of encoding (such as mood) or internal physiological state (such as being drunk) is different to that at time of recall. These variables act as retrieval cues.


What study supports state-dependent forgetting?

Carter and Cassidy


Describe Carter and Cassidy's study into state-dependent forgetting

In a laboratory experiment they have participants anti-histamine drugs that have a mild sedative effect resulting in drowsiness. This creates an internal physiological state different with the normal one of being awake or alert. The participants had to learn a list of words and passages of prose and then recall the information, creating four conditions.

In the conditions where there was a mismatch between internal state at time of learning and recall, performance on the memory test was significantly worse.

This shows that forgetting is more likely to occur when the internal cues at encoding are absent at retrieval (such as drowsy when recalling but alert when learning)


How is supporting evidence a strength of retrieval failure?

There is a large body of evidence to support the effects of retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting.

Many psychologists see context dependent forgetting as the main reason for forgetting in long term memory due to the amount is studies supporting the importance of cues and how they trigger memory.

This is a strength because supporting evidence increases the validity of an explanation. This is especially the case as retrieval failure has been found to occur in both highly controlled laboratory experiments and in real-life situations.


How is context effects a limitation of state-dependent forgetting?

The experiments into retrieval failure tend to rely on very different and extreme contexts in order to create conditions for forgetting.

Different contexts would have to be very different before an effect is seen, whereas in real life we would rarely if ever encounter an environment as different from land as underwater. In contrast learning something in one room and recalling in another is unlikely to result in much forgetting because these environments are generally not different enough.

This is a limitation because it means that real life applications of retrieval failure due to context cues don't actually explain much forgetting


Give an evaluative point to do with recall versus recognition

The context effect may be related to the type of memory being tested.

Godden and Baddeley's findings only occurred when the divers had to free-recall items learned. When given a recognition test (involving whether a named item was in a list or not), the context effect wasn't seen.

This is a limitation as it means that the real life applications of retrieval failure may only apply to examples of free recall and not every day cases of recognition. This reduces the validity of the theory.


Does cue-dependent forgetting have any real life applications?

It is still worth considering the potential benefits of encoding specificity when marginal differences would matter, such as when revising for exams. Research suggests you should revise in the same room as where you will be taking your exams, this may be unrealistic but you can use your imagination to achieve this.

Another practical use of the knowledge gained from cue-dependent forgetting is that of police reconstructions of police crimes. The aim is to jog the memory of the witness by recreating the context of the incident through the use of retrieval cues, with the participants wearing the same clothes and the reconstruction taking place in the same location

That fact that retrieval failure has many practical applications such as helping with revision and EWT adds strength to the idea that real life forgetting may be due to retrieval failure


How is problems with the encoding specificity principle a limitation of the theory?

Critics claim that the ESP cannot be tested. It is impossible to test because the reasoning behind it is circular. If a stimulus leads to the retrieval of a memory then it is assumed that it must have been encoded in memory. If it does not lead to retrieval of a memory, it is assumed it cannot have been encoded in memory.

This is a weakness because circular arguments are not possible to test and are not scientific. They are just assumptions- there is no way of establishing whether or not the cue has actually been encoded.

This does not mean that the ESP should be abandoned as it explains a huge amount of research into remembering and forgetting. It also has many practical applications in pointing to the benefits of context and state related cues.


Paul drove his friends out to eat one summers day. Just as they got to the restaurant carpark he suddenly realised he had forgotten something-he had forgotten his wallet. "I keep my wallet and jacket in different places, but always pick them up together ", Paul said "but because it is such a lovely evening, I decided not to bother with the jacket ".

Can you explain why Paul forgetting his jacket and he also forgot his wallet? (4 marks)

Paul forgetting his jacket is an example of cue dependent forgetting which occurs when there are insufficient cues available to trigger the memory at the time of recall. Paul forgetting his wallet because he didn't bring his jacket is an example of context dependent forgetting which occurs when the environmental cues present at encoding, in this case his jacket, are absent at the time of recall. Context cues are environmental cues needed to trigger a memory, and in this case his jacket is the context cue needed to trigger the memory of his wallet. Because he didn't bring his jacket he has no cue available to remember his wallet.