Retrieval Failure

Topic: Retrieval Failure

Posted by: Sophia

Key Terms:

  • Proactive interference: the disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new information
  • Retroactive interference: the disruptive effect of new learning on the recall of old information
  • Repression: in psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes from consciousness anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories.


  • One of the explanations for forgetting is due to retrieval failure.Retrieval failure is when the stored information cannot be accessed which leads to forgetting.
  • Retrieval failure can be caused by lack of retrieval cues.
  • Retrieval failure can also be caused by proactive interference where your previous learning interferes with what you experience later.
  • It can also be caused by retroactive interference where new information makes it harder for you to remember what you've learned previously.
  • It is when old and new information compete with each other that interference occurs.
  • Sometimes we are motivated to forge.
  • Sigmund Fred proposed the concept of repression, theory that our memory self censor painful or embarrassing information to protect our self concept and minimize anxiety.

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