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On the role of item similarity in retrieval-induced forgetting

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We report on two experiments designed to examine how the similarity of retrieval-practised and not-retrieval-practised items influences the amount of retrieval-induced forgetting. Participants studied categorised item lists with each category consisting of exemplars from two different semantic subcategories. Using both the retrieval practice paradigm (Experiment 1) and the output interference paradigm (Experiment 2) we found that the retrieval of a subset of the studied items impaired the subsequent recall of the nonpractised items if the two types of items were fairly dissimilar to each other (same category but different subcategory) but did not induce impairment if the two types of items were highly similar (same category and subcategory). These results indicate that a high degree of similarity of practised and nonpractised items can eliminate retrieval-induced forgetting. They also suggest that forgetting in the retrieval practice paradigm and forgetting in the output interference paradigm are mediated by the same mechanisms. The relation of the present results to other very recent findings about the role of item similarity in retrieval-induced forgetting in discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universität Regensburg, Germany

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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