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Interference between similar events is known to be a major mechanism of forgetting. As such, it is important for us to understand how to reduce interference effects. While early research suggested that differentiation of the two sources of information was vital for preventing interference, more recent research has found that being reminded of similar material and making associations can be most beneficial. In the present thesis I put these two mechanisms in opposition, utilizing a two list A-B, A-D paradigm. Experiment 1 revealed little difference in memory for interfering word pairs between participants in a “reminding” condition asked to make associations vs. a “differentiation” condition asked to differentiate and forget old pairs while studying new pairs. Experiment 2a revealed an interaction, such that those told to make associations showed less interference than those told to forget the first list, while both conditions performed similarly on control pairs. However, Experiment 2b failed to replicate Experiment 2a. In Experiment 3 I sought to increase the degree of differentiation between lists by varying encoding. Using different encoding between lists resulted in equivalent interference in both the reminding and differentiation conditions. Experiment 4 varied encoding instructions to contrast the differentiation present in Experiment 3 against circumstances encouraging associations. One group used the same encoding method for both lists, while another was given different study methods between lists. Results reveal a unique discovery about the important interplay of encoding and study time in determining the likelihood of reminding.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Colleen Kelley, Professor Directing Thesis; Michael Kaschak, Committee Member; Arielle Borovsky, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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