Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 678–689 | Cite as

That’s a good idea, but let’s keep thinking! Can we prevent our initial ideas from being forgotten as a consequence of thinking of new ideas?

  • Annie S. DittaEmail author
  • Benjamin C. Storm
Original Article


Four experiments examined participants’ ability to remember their own ideas in a modified Alternative Uses Task. Participants were asked to generate uses for objects, and on half of the trials participants were then asked to think of more uses. Memory for the initial uses they generated was then tested via a cued-recall task. Results demonstrated that participants forgot their initial uses as a consequence of thinking of new uses (referred to as the thinking-induced forgetting effect), and this effect persisted even when participants chose the subset of uses they thought were the most creative and to be remembered. The only scenario in which uses were protected from forgetting was when they were required to use their uses as hints for generating more ideas. Together, these findings demonstrate that one’s own ideas are susceptible to forgetting when additional ideas must be generated, indicating that thinking is a modifier of memory despite one’s motivation to preserve their ideas.


Retrieval Practice Creative Idea Final Recall Thinking Condition Additional Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank O. Altamirano, S. Chea, J. Grinkevich, P. Gunalp, M. Hickman, S. Katawetheesakun, S. Kotzman, P. Small, S. Shrikanth, K. Ramakrishnan, and K. Williams for their assistance with data collection and data coding, as well as N. Davidenko for his comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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