Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Successfully retrieving information sometimes causes forgetting of related, but unpracticed, information, termed retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF). One explanatory mechanism of RIF suggests related, but currently irrelevant, information is inhibited during retrieval, resulting in poorer memory for competing representations. Critically, this perspective suggests stronger memories are more susceptible to RIF because stronger representations produce additional competition when unpracticed. To resolve this competition, strong competing items are inhibited, resulting in the counterintuitive prediction that stronger memories are more likely to be forgotten. The aim of the current experiments was to replicate and extend recent work suggesting non-typical objects and own-race faces, both of which are associated with stronger memory traces, are more likely to be forgotten. In Experiment 1, participants studied and practiced typical and non-typical objects before memory was assessed through recognition or measures of perceptual similarity. Results showed object memorability influenced the magnitude of RIF: Non-typical (i.e., highly memorable) objects were more likely to be forgotten than typical (i.e., non-memorable) objects. However, RIF did not correspond with changes in perceived similarity. In Experiment 2, participants studied and practiced own- and other-race faces before memory was assessed, again through either recognition or similarity measures. Experiment 2 revealed no RIF for own- or other-race faces, and no corresponding changes in perceived similarity. These findings suggest that if memory traces are too weak to produce competition, no RIF is observed. Considered together, these results support inhibitory accounts of RIF, and suggest stronger memories produce additional competition that makes them more susceptible to forgetting.



Committee Chair

Papesh, Megan