Theories of Forgetting

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THEORIES OF FORGETTING Forgetting was first studied in detail by Hermann Ebbinghaus (1885/1913). His basic measure of forgetting was the savings method—the reduction in number of trials for re-learning compared with original learning. Findings suggest that the forgetting function is approximately logarithmic. Forgetting is fastest shortly after learning and the rate then decreases with time. Rubin and Wenzel (1996) found evidence to support Ebbinghaus from group data, but suggest that autobiographical memory does not fit the model. Baddeley (1997) found that the forgetting rate was unusually slow for continuous motor skills e.g., riding a bike. Most studies look at explicit memory and findings with implicit memory have been inconsistent. REPRESSION Freud (1915, 1943) argued that very threatening or anxiety-provoking material is often unable to gain access to conscious awareness—he called this repression. Repression is difficult to study under laboratory conditions. Non-experimental evidence where adults recover repressed memories of childhood abuse exists but there is controversy as some argue that the "memories" are false. Andrews et al. (1999) looked at reports of recovered memories from 236 therapy patients. 41% reported corroborative evidence. Only 28% claimed that the trigger for the first recovered memory occurred during a therapeutic session. Some patients have admitted reporting false memories (e.g. Lief & Fetkewicz, 1995). People can be misled into believing the existence of events that didn't happen. Ceci (1995) showed that preschool children found it hard to distinguish between real and fictitious events. Clancy et al.'s (2000) study supported a hypothesis that women who report recovered memories of sexual abuse are more prone than others to develop certain types of illusory memories. 1 Evaluation There are arguments for and against the genuineness of
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