Matthew Jensen Hays, Adriel Boals: “Is Measuring Short-Term Memory as Easy as Reducing Test-Expectancy?”

November 3, 2011 | Seattle, WA

Speaker: Matthew Jensen Hays, Adriel Boals
Host: Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

Learners intuitively understand that they must rely on long-term memory processes in order to recall information after an intervening distractor (e.g., Watkins & Watkins, 1974). Several researchers (e.g., Muter, 1980) have supposed that reducing the expectation of a test after a distractor reduces long-term memory involvement, permitting a “pure” measure of forgetting from short-term memory. We report an experiment that contradicts this notion by revealing substantial proactive interference in a low-test-expectancy Brown-Peterson paradigm. Because proactive interference indicates that long-term memory is involved (e.g., Craik & Birtwistle, 1971), these results suggest that reducing test-expectancy alone is not sufficient to reduce long-term memory involvement.