Selective remembering and directed forgetting are influenced by similar stimulus properties
Dillon H. Murphy & Alan D. Castel
Do the properties of to-be-remembered events influence the ability to remember, and also intentionally forget, these events in similar ways? Prior work has examined how the font size, animacy, emotionality, concreteness (the degree to which a word denotes something perceptible), frequency (how often a word appears in language), and length of to-be-remembered words influence memory. However, it was previously unclear whether the forgetting of information is also influenced by these characteristics. In six experiments, we used an item-method directed forgetting task where we presented participants with to-be-remembered and to-be-forgotten words varying in font size (large or small), animacy (animate or inanimate), emotionality (negative or neutral), concreteness (high or low), frequency (high or low), and word length (long or short). Results revealed that animacy, emotionality, concreteness, frequency, and word length (but not font size) influenced both remembering and forgetting. Together, the present findings indicate that the characteristics of presented words can influence remembering as well as directed forgetting, providing further evidence that the remembering and forgetting processes are governed by similar properties.