To Forget or Not to Forget: The Effect of Probability of Test on Directed Forgetting

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Two experiments investigated how individuals use explicit memory cues that designate different probabilities of test. As in typical directed forgetting studies, subjects received words explicitly cued as having either a 0% or a 100% chance of being on a subsequent memory test (i.e. forget and remember cues, respectively). In addition, some words were explicitly cued as having the potential to be either forgotten or remembered (i.e. a 50% cue). Recall of 50% words was between that of 0% and 100% words. In addition, the presence of 50% words lowered recall of the 100% words compared to that of a control group that did not receive the 50% words, but received the same number of 100% words. A think-aloud task indicated that these results were due to the 50% words being treated like either 100% or 0% words at encoding. The results are discussed in terms of the effect of different probabilities of test on the strategic processing and representation of information.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 1996

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