Forgetting Explanation: Retrieval Failure (Absence of Context and Cues).

Stephanie Price
Mind Map by Stephanie Price, updated more than 1 year ago
Stephanie Price
Created by Stephanie Price over 6 years ago
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Psychology (Remembering and Forgetting.) Mind Map on Forgetting Explanation: Retrieval Failure (Absence of Context and Cues)., created by Stephanie Price on 06/04/2013.

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Forgetting Explanation: Retrieval Failure (Absence of Context and Cues).
1 According to the theory of retrieval failure, we forget because we cannot retrieve information from long-term memory without the appropriate retrieval cues.
1.1 In this case, the information is available, because it is still stored in memory, but not accessible, because we cannot recall it when needed.
1.1.1 You only have to think about what happens in exams, when you cannot recall information in the exam hall, but remember it easily when someone cues you by saying something about it outside the examination hall.
1.1.1.1 Brown and McNeill (1966) referred to this type of experience as a tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (TOT).
2 Context.
2.1 One especially useful cue to recall is context. Investigators who study eyewitness testimony are aware that it is possible to aid recall in a witness by reinstating the context, helping the witness to re-experience the event by imagining where the event took place and all that was going on at the time.
2.2 The effect of context on recall was demonstrated experimentally by Godden and Baddeley (1975). They suggested that memory was context-dependent, meaning that recall is dependent on whether the context in which we learn is the same as the context in which we recall.
2.2.1 Research Study: Godden and Baddeley (1975).
2.3 Tulving and Thompson (1973) explained this effect in terms of the encoding-specificity principle, meaning that recall is better if the retrieval context is similar to the encoding context.
2.3.1 However, the context need not always be environmental. Sometimes our own internal context, such as our mood state, can act as cue to retrieval.
2.3.1.1 E.g. If a person is depressed when they learn something, they are more likely to recall the information when they are depressed than why they are happy.
2.3.1.1.1 Eysenck and Keane (2000) suggest that this effect is most noticeable when the moods are a consequence of personal events rather than induced by lists of positive or negative words.
3 Other Cues.
3.1 A fairly common way of investigating the effects of cues on retrieval failure is to use category headings as cues.
3.1.1 Research Study: Tulving and Pearlstone (1966).
3.2 Bower et al. (1969) carried out a study which showed how organisation can act as a cue to recall.
3.2.1 Research Study: Bower et al. (1969).
4 Evaluation.
4.1 According to Baddeley (1997), there is no doubt about the importance of cues in the retrieval process.
4.2 Godden and Baddeley's (1975) findings in the underwater study occur only when participants are asked to perform free recall, and not when the test involves recognition, so retrieval failure may not explain instances of forgetting that occur with other forms of recall.
4.3 The context-dependent nature of memory has been demonstrated many times and it is not even necessary to be in the same environment. Smith (1979) found that just imagining the room where learning took place was as effective for participants as recalling in the same room as learning.
4.4 Some studies involve artificial stimuli and so lack ecological validity. E.g. In the Tulving and Pearlstone study (1966) participants were asked to recall a list of 48 words in 12 categories.
4.5 The retrieval failure explanation is consistent with the levels of processing theory of memory. Deep processing involves making links and associations with what we already know. This increases the chance that one or more of these associations will match with a retrieval cue (Groome 1999).
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