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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-340
Number of pages15
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (all)


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