Lecture: Memory & Forgetting
Reading Assignment 15: Remembering,...
Misremembering, and Forgetting (pp. 214-222)
Click for Objectives for Reading Assignment 15


The fifteenth reading assignment introduces students to the theories that explain errors in memory. Everybody knows that Memory is not perfect; as a result, researchers have also dedicated significant time and consideration to the errors associated with Memory. A researcher by the name of Daniel Schacter believes that there are Seven Sins of Memory responsible for Forgetting. The Seven Sins of Memory are Absent-Mindedness, Bias, Blocking, Misattribution, Persistence, Suggestibility, and Transience.

One thing is for certain, Forgetting occurs, and research suggests that it occurs is a reliably predictable way. That predictable way has been referred to as the Forgetting Curve. The Rate of Forgetting has been explained by psychologist in a fashion that does not matter whether the unit of time discussed is minutes, days, weeks, or years (Ebbinghaus, 1885). An exception to the Rate of Forgetting occurs with the Flashbulb Memories. Any experience that might result in a Flashbulb Memory is usually a highly consequential, emotional, or surprising event. Flashbulb Memories are thought to remain vivid for prolonged periods of time. Even though highly consequential memories may remain vivid, there is still reason to be concerned about Distortions in Memory - especially if impacted by emotional factors.

Theories of Forgetting

There have been several theories of the Forgetting; three of which will be discussed in this reading assignment. The first theory is called Decay Theory, which is consistent with the research supporting the Rate of Forgetting. Memories are thought to spawn a neurological correlate in the Brain that loses its potency as time passes. Over the years, however, limitations of the theory in its’ strictest sense have been realized (Wikipedia.org/Decay_theory). A second theory is Motivated Forgetting, which also has apparent limitations in its application. Motivated Forgetting theory is only applicable in situations that a person experiences a traumatic experience. In these cases, it may be beneficial for the individual to actively try to forget these events to function appropriately in their everyday lives. Interference Theory is the third theory and the most complex. Interference Theory, which holds that existing memories compete with one another, and it does this with three types of Interference: Proactive Interference, Retroactive Interference, and Latent Interference. Proactive Interference is a form of interference that occurs when previously established memories interfere with the creation of new memories; thus making it more difficult to learn new material – to proactively learn. Retroactive Interference occurs when new memories impact the old memories. The last form of interference is referred to as Latent Interference (or Output Interference) which many of are likely familiar with (Wikipedia.org/Interference_Theory). An example, taken from Wikipedia, might occur when a person created a list of items to purchase at a grocery store, but then forgot to take the list when leaving home. The act of remembering a couple items on that list decreases the probability of remembering the other items on that list.


Draft of Summary

Bejean, J. (2012, Fall). Assignment 2.3. Draft of summary submitted in partial fulfillment of Introduction to Experimental (RPS 410).

Pendleton, A. (2012, Fall). Assignment 2.3. Draft of summary submitted in partial fulfillment of Introduction to Experimental (RPS 410).


A. Lefton, L.A. & Brannon, L. (2003). Psychology (8th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon: Pearson Education, Inc.

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