A Global Theory of Remembering and Forgetting From Multiple Lists

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episodic memory, directed forgetting, memory models, free recall, recognition

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Forgetting is frustrating, usually because it is unintended. Other times, one may purposely attempt to forget an event. A global theory of recognition and free recall that explains both types of forgetting and remembering from multiple list experiments is presented. The critical assumption of the model is that both intentional and unintentional forgetting are often due to contextual interference. Unintentional forgetting is the natural result of contextual changes between study and test. Intentional forgetting is accomplished by a rapid, metacognitively instigated change in mental context that renders to-be-forgotten information relatively inaccessible and renders to-be-remembered information more accessible (L. Sahakyan & C. M. Kelley, 2002). This occurs for both recognition and free recall. Implications for item-method directed forgetting, exclusion recognition, source memory, and encoding operations are discussed.

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, v. 35, no. 4, p. 970-988