Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Directed Forgetting

  • Colin M. MacLeodEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_1084



Directed forgetting is an experimental procedure developed in the late 1960s as an analog to the normal updating of memory. Essentially, individuals are told that they can forget some of the information being presented to them. This is done in one of two ways. In the item method, an instruction to remember or to forget is given immediately after each presented item. In the list method, a single instruction is given half way through the list of items either to forget or to continue remembering the first half of the list. Contrary to instruction, under both methods, memory for both to-be-remembered items (R items) and to-be-forgotten items (F items) is ultimately assessed. The standard finding is poorer memory for the F items than for the R items – the directed forgetting effect.

Theoretical Background

In the beginning, four quite intuitive ideas were proposed to explain how...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada