Putting Measurements of Retrieval-Induced Forgetting to the Test
Schilling, Christopher J.
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Retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) is a consequence of retrieval that produces forgetting of other, previously learned information. Presently, researchers disagree on whether the phenomenon is inhibitory in nature, and numerous studies have been conducted to test this notion. However, category-cued tests, a common test design, may be inappropriate for testing the inhibitory account of RIF due to interference effects. Instead, researchers should use tests that reduce the role of interference in RIF at test, such as category-plus-stem-cued tests. Individual RIF performance on each of these test types were compared to performance on an established measure of response inhibition (i.e stop-signal reaction time). Results showed that only participants in the category-plus-stem-cued test exhibited inhibitory control performance consistent with RIF performance: Participants with high inhibitory control also showed greater RIF. However, participants in the category-cued condition showed the opposite relationship: Failure to inhibit predicted greater RIF performance. Results suggest that RIF is attributable to both inhibitory and non-inhibitory sources, that tests that reduce interference may better capture inhibition-based RIF, and that researchers must be careful to employ test designs appropriate for research objectives.