Retrieval-induced forgetting is a well-established phenomenon. The current study investigates whether anxiety as measured by Carver & White’s Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS) scale correlates with the magnitude of the retrieval-induced forgetting effect. In a small sample (N=27) of college students, retrieval-induced forgetting was induced using 6 exemplars from each of 3 categories. BIS scale data were collected from each participant as well as the number of correctly recalled items from each of the RcW+, NRcW, and RcW– categories. A correlation of the BIS scores with the retrieval-induced forgetting effect magnitude shows no significant correlation (correlation = –0.0235) between the two. Further research with a larger sample size is needed to confirm or negate these results.
Retrieval-Induced Forgetting and Behavioural Inhibition System
Retrieval-induced forgetting occurs when learned information is inhibited from being retrieved because of practice retrieving similar information (Storm Bjork& Bjork 2008, Spitzer & Bauml 2009). Typically, a retrieval-induced forgetting study has three separate phases. In the first study phase, pairs of data in categories are learned; this set of data might consist of ‘auto: Toyota,’ ‘auto: Ford,’ ‘colour: purple,’ ‘colour: green,’ ‘tree: maple,’ and ‘tree: oak,’ as a brief example. In the second retrieval practice phase, one pair from some categories is repeatedly practiced with cues such as ‘auto: To…’ or ‘colour: gr…’ (with no practice in some categories, such as the tree category in this example); these pairs are referred to as RcW+ items from the list. Items from the same categories but that are not practiced are usually called RcW– items; in this example, RcW– items would be ‘auto: Ford,’ and ‘colour: purple’. Items from categories that are not practiced are generally referred to as NRcW items; in this example, the NRcW items would be ‘tree: maple,’ and ‘tree: oak.’ After a delay, in the test phase participants are typically asked to remember the pairs of items. In a typical retrieval-induced forgetting study, the best recalled items are in the RcW+ list, followed by the NRcW items, with the RcW– items retrieved the most poorly (Storm et al., 2008). The phenomenon is called retrieval-induced forgetting because it is presumed that retrieval of the RcW+ practiced items interferes with retrieval of the Rp– non-practiced items due to their similar characteristics (Storm et al., 2008). The phenomenon of Retrieval-induced forgetting has been well documented in many studies (Saunders & MacLeod 2002, Spitzer & Bauml 2007, Jakab & Raaijmakers 2009, Appan & Browne 2010, Aslan & Bauml 2011)
Bauml, Zellner, Villimek (2005) report that retrieval-induced forgetting is a function of inhibition systems. Gray argued the presence of two opposing behavioural moderating systems, the behavioural inhibition system (BIS), which mediates actions that may result in punishment, pain, or other negative results, and the behavioural activation system (BAS), which promotes actions that may result in rewards, achievement of goals, and other positive results (Gray, 1981). A BIS scale consisting of seven Likert-scale questions was developed by Carver & White (1994). This scale is designed to assess the impact of anxiety-producing tasks on individual subjects.