Influences of Part-List Cuing on Different Forms of Episodic Forgetting

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Across 3 experiments, we examined the interplay of part-list cuing and forgetting, employing 3 different methods to induce episodic forgetting—list-method directed forgetting, context-dependent forgetting, and proactive interference. For each form of forgetting, participants were asked at test to recall the target items of a previously studied list in the presence or the absence of the list's remaining items serving as retrieval cues. We found such part-list cuing to amplify the forgetting in proactive interference but to diminish the forgetting in list-method directed forgetting and context-dependent forgetting. These results show that the effects of part-list cuing on forgotten memories depend critically on the circumstances surrounding the forgetting. If the forgetting reflects impaired access to the original encoding context, as has been suggested in list-method directed forgetting and context-dependent forgetting (but not in proactive interference), part-list cues improve access to forgotten memories; if the forgetting does not reflect such a contextual effect, no such beneficial effects emerge, and access to forgotten memories may even be impaired.

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