On Forgetting the Locations of Things Stored in Special Places

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This research addresses the problem sometimes encountered in everyday memory of forgetting the location of an object intentionally stored in a special location for future retrieval. The first experiment presents supporting evidence for the hypothesis that such forgetting is likely to occur when two conditions are met at the time of encoding: (a) a judgment that the location is very memorable, and (b) a judgment that the location is an unlikely one for the object. It is further argued that an auxiliary generation-recognition strategy cannot be relied on when one forgets an unlikely location and evidence is presented from an experiment using a recognition memory test in support of this argument. The two conditions most likely to induce people to store things in unlikely locations are the desire to hide them from others and a misapplication of a distinctiveness theory of memory to associative recall. A failure of metamemory is implicated.

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