Retrieval-induced forgetting: Testing the competition assumption of inhibition theory
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Practicing the retrieval of some information can lead to poorer retrieval of other related information; this phenomenon is called retrieval-induced forgetting. This pattern has been explained as the result of inhibition of the related information during retrieval practice (Anderson, 2003). A core assumption of this inhibition account is that, to be suppressed, the related information must compete with the target information at the time of practice. Four experiments are reported that test this competition assumption. Two experiments showed that retrieval-induced forgetting did not occur without specific retrieval practice of the target items, replicating and extending prior findings. Two further experiments then showed that retrieval-induced forgetting did occur, however, when competition between target information and related information during retrieval practice was eliminated, undermining the competition assumption and hence the inhibition account. A new explanation of retrieval-induced forgetting is introduced that emphasizes context change between study, retrieval practice, and test.