Retrieval-induced forgetting: evidence for a recall-specific mechanism

Psychon Bull Rev. 2000 Sep;7(3):522-30. doi: 10.3758/bf03214366.


Previous work has shown that recalling information from long-term memory can impair the long-term retention of related representations--a phenomenon known as retrieval-induced forgetting (Anderson, Bjork, & Bjork, 1994). We report an experiment in which the question of whether retrieval is necessary to induce this form of impairment was examined. All the subjects studied six members from each of eight taxonomic categories (e.g., fruit orange). In the competitive practice condition, the subjects practiced recalling three of the six members, using category-stem cues (e.g., fruit or__). In the noncompetitive practice condition, the subjects were reexposed to these same members for the same number of repetitions but were asked to recall the category name by using the exemplar and a stem as cues (e.g., fr__orange). Despite significant and comparable facilitation of practiced items in both conditions, only the competitive practice subjects were impaired in their ability to recall the nonpracticed members on a delayed cued-recall test. These findings argue that retrieval-induced forgetting is not caused by increased competition arising from the strengthening of practiced items, but by inhibitory processes specific to the situation of recall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Mental Recall*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Verbal Learning*