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What is interference?

Some forgetting takes place because of interference. This occurs when two pieces of information conflict with each other, resulting in forgetting of one or both, or in some distortion of memory.


What are the two types of interference?

Proactive and retrospective


What is proactive interference?

occurs when an older memory interferes with a newer one. For example, your teacher has learnt so many names in the past that she has difficulty remembering the names of her current class.


What is retrospective interference?

occurs when a newer memory interferes with an older one. For example, your teacher has learned so many new names this year she has difficulty remembering the names of her students last year.


What is competitive interference?

when memories are similar and thus are hard to differentiate and remember.


What studies support the theory?

Schmidt (2000) Childhood Neighbourhood and McGeoch and McDonald (1931) Variant list recall


Explain Schmidts study

Schmidt and his colleagues picked 700 people randomly from a database of former students and sent them a questionnaire asking about how long they had lived in the town of the school and how many street names they could remember. There was a positive association between the amount of time the participant had moved out of the area and the number of streets forgotten.
+ Shows a correlation
- Those that had played extensively in the neighbourhood or walked to school would have a better memory of the street names. Extraneous variables.


what evaluation points link to interference?

Lab studies, artificial materials, time between learning and Schimdt


what was McGeoch and McDonalds study?

McGeoch and McDonald (1931) studied retroactive interference by changing the amount of similarity between two sets of materials. Participants had to learn a list of 10 words until they could remember them with 100% accuracy. Then they learned a new list. There were six groups of participants who had to learn different types of lists.
Group 1 – synonyms
Group 2 – antonyms
Group 3 – words unrelated to the original ones
Group 4 – nonsense syllables
Group 5 – three-digit numbers
Group 6 – no new list.
Findings: When the participants recalled the original list of words, their performance depended on the nature of the second list of words. The most similar material (Group 1) produced the worst recall, suggesting that interference is stronger when the memories are similar.


what is retrieval failure?

The reason people forget information may be because of insufficient cues. When information is initially placed in memory, associated cues are stored at the same time. If these cues are not available at the time of recall, it may make it appear as if you have forgotten the information but, in fact, this is due to retrieval failure


what is the ESP?

Tulving (1983) reviewed research into retrieval failure and discovered a consistent pattern to the findings. He summarised this pattern in what he called the encoding specificity principle. This states that if a cue is to help us to recall information it has to be present at encoding (when we learn the material) and at retrieval (when we are recalling it.) It follows form this that if the cues available at encoding and retrieval are different or absent, then there will be some forgetting.


what was the context-dependent forgetting? what was the experiment that backed it up?

Godden and Baddeley (1975) carried out a really interesting study of deep-sea divers working underwater. In this situation it’s crucial – a matter of life and death – for divers to remember the instructions given before diving about their work underwater.
Procedure: They were asked to learn word on land, and recall them underwater and then to learn words underwater and recall them on land. They were also asked to learn word underwater and recall them underwater, this was the same for land.
Findings: Accurate recall was 40% lower in the non-matching conditions showing that the external cues were not available there leading them to retrieval failure.


what was the state-dependent forgetting? what was the experiment that backed it up?

Sara Carter and Helen Cassaday (1998) gave anti-histamine drugs to their participants. The drug had a mild sedative effect making the participants slightly drowsy. This creates an internal physiological state different from the 'normal' state of being awake and alert. The participants and to learn lists of words and passages of prose and then recall the information, again in these conditions.
Procedure: They were asked to learn on the drug and recall off it and learn off the drug and recall on it. They were also asked to learn and recall on the drug, this was the same for off it.
Findings: In the conditions where there was a mismatch between internal state at learning and recall, performance on the memory test was significantly worse. So, when the cues are absent (for example, you are drowsy when recalling the info but had been alert learning it) then there is more forgetting.


what were the evaluation points?

supporting evidence, questioning context effects, recall versus recognition, real life applications and problems with the ESP