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Describe and Evaluate the Cue Dependent Theory of Forgetting

Autor:   •  March 6, 2013  •  Essay  •  859 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,139 Views

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Describe and Evaluate the Cue Dependent Theory of Forgetting

According to Tulving (1975) cue dependent forgetting occurs when we have stored information but cannot access it because we lack the necessary cues to retrieve it. This theory argues that when we encode information we also encode details of the context and state that we were in at the time of encoding. These encoding cues act as extra information that guides us to the information we are trying to retrieve. Without these cues we find it difficult to get the information.

The cue dependent theory of forgetting theorises that you never actually lose a memory, the memory is always there and that only the route to that memory is lost. Tulving calls these routes retrieval cues. These cues act as pointers or triggers when finding a memory. According to Tulving, the term cue dependent forgetting refers jointly to

. State dependent

. Context dependent

For example, when you walk into a room and completely forget what you went in for, you might remember when you walk back into the room you were in when you thought of the idea. This is called context dependent forgetting and refers to environmental or contextual variables and represents external cues.

However, if you go out one night and get drunk, the next morning you may have no idea what happened the previous night. This is an example of state dependent forgetting and refers to psychological or physiological factors that affect your memory, it represents internal cues.

There is considerable evidence to support cue dependency theory of forgetting. For example, Godden and Baddeley (1975) found that divers could recall words better if they had learnt words in one environment and then recalled them in the same environment

However the evidence often used to support cue dependency theory are experiments and may lack ecological validity as they test memory on word lists rather than more difficult everyday memory tasks so cues may have a different effect on forgetting in real life.

Cue dependency theory does have lots of practical applications especially with things like enhancing people’s recall by introducing context or state cues. For example, students can enhance their recall in an exam if they can imagine the classroom they learnt the information in. This would reactivate cues present when they first encoded that memory. Also, people can reactivate cues from the scene of a crime in order to increase recall of eye witness. This technique has


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