Causes of Forgetting
There are some subjective and objective conditions of forgetting. These we commonly call causes of forgetting. These causes hamper the processes of learning and retention.
• Length of the learning material is a factor of forgetting. The more is the time taken in learning, the quicker is the rate of forgetting. Attitude or interest of the learner is an important factor in forgetting. Prose pieces are learnt with much pains at the cost of much time. Forgetting in the case of prose materials sets in quickly.
• Under learning is another important causes of forgetting. If the lesson is half learnt, forgetting will be very quick.
• Injury or shock to the brain is another cause of forgetting. We all know about the shock of amnesia.
• Forgetting often takes place due to the influence of drugs. Narcotic drugs make the neurones ineffective. As a result drug addicts become forgetful.
• Retroactive inhibition is often the cause of forgetting. When we learn anything, some time is taken for its consolidation. We often try to learn lots of things within a short span of time, one after another. In all such cases later experience casts influence on the previous experiences. Many things become blurred and forgetting sets in. Hindrance in the previous learning owing to the effect of later learning is called retroactive inhibition.
• Forgetting may often set in due to mental fatigue. Long work of tiring mental work makes us mentally fatigued and exhausted. Our alertness is lowered. Forgetting becomes natural due to mental fatigue.
• Forgetting may also become regular for want of proper rest. Rest, pause helps in consolidation. Want of proper sleep is often the cause of forgetting.
• The psychoanalysts are of the opinion that “we forget because we want to forget!” We repress unpleasant memories into the unconsciousness. we want to forget the sorrows and horrors of life. So we forget them pretty soon.
Forgetting is often due to objective causes but mostly mental conditions are inherent in those cases. The influence of the unconscious mind is often active in making us forget. In order to minimize forgetting, we are to remove the possible causes of unconscious motivations for forgetting. To avoid forgetting we are to learn properly that would enhance our retention power.
There are six main reasons for forgetting
(1) ineffective encoding
(2) decay interference
(3) retrieval failure
(4) motivated forgetting
(5) physical injury or trauma.
The way information is encoded affects the ability to remember it. Processing information at a deeper level makes it harder to forget. If a student thinks about the meaning of the concepts in her textbook rather than just reading them, she’ll remember them better when the final exam comes around. If the information is not encoded properly—such as if the student simply skims over the textbook while paying more attention to the TV—it is more likely to be forgotten.
According to this theory memory fades with time. Decay explains the loss of memories from sensory and short-term memory. However, loss of long-term memories does not seem to depend on how much time has gone by since the information was learned. People might easily remember their first day in junior high school but completely forget what they learned in class last Tuesday.
refers to the idea that forgetting occurs because the recall of certain items interferes with the recall of other items Intrference theory has a better account of why people lose long-term memories. According to this theory, people forget information because of interference from other learned information. There are two types of interference: retroactive and proactive.
• Retroactive interference happens when newly learned information makes people forget old information.
• Proactive interference happens when old information makes people forget newly learned information.
Forgetting may also result from failure to retrieve information in memory, such as if the wrong sort of retrieval cue is used. For example, Dan may not be able to remember the name of his fifth-grade teacher. However, the teacher’s name might suddenly pop into Dan’s head if he visits his old grade school and sees his fifth-grade classroom. The classroom would then be acting as a context cue for retrieving the memory of his teacher’s name.
Psychologist Sigmund Freud proposed that people forget because they push unpleasant or intolerable thoughts and feelings deep into their unconscious. He called this phenomenon repression. The idea that people forget things they don’t want to remember is also called motivated forgetting or psychogenic amnesia.
Physical Injury or Trauma
Anterograde amnesia is the inability to remember events that occur after an injury or traumatic event. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to remember events that occurred before an injury or traumatic event.