What is it about?

The current study questions the sweeping claim that people can weaken or even erase unwanted memories by volitional suppression alone. Such intentional suppression is typically engendered using the Think/No-Think paradigm, in which participants are required to retrieve some target items and to suppress others. We claim that rather than intentional suppression, forgetting in this paradigm may reflect incidental suppression of No-Think items induced by interference via prior retrieval of the Think items. To distinguish between these possibilities, we tested participants using an adjusted suppression paradigm, which did not include the Think condition and compared it with the standard suppression paradigm which included a think condition. We found suppression only in the standard paradigm. These results indicate that interference via prior retrieval is necessary to induce forgetting.

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Why is it important?

Understanding the mechanisms of induced forgetting is important because forgetting is a regulatory process that is crucial for our cognitive and affective well-being. Thus, forgetting is vital for (a) memory-regulating strategies in healthy people and (b) the development of treatments for mental disorders involving memory regulation, such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

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This page is a summary of: Intentional forgetting needs intentional remembering., Journal of Experimental Psychology General, January 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xge0001536.
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