Title

The Contextual Change Paradox is Still Unresolved: Comment on Bouton, Nelson, and Rosas

Publication Title

Psychological Bulletin

Publication Date

3-1999

Document Type

Article

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.187

Keywords

stimulus generalization & contextual cue changes in accounts of forgetting, commentary

Disciplines

Psychology

Abstract

According to the contextual change theory of memory loss, spontaneous forgetting reflects a retrieval impairment due to subtle and unprogrammed shifts in environmental cues over a retention interval. However, Riccio, Richardson, and Ebner (1984) noted an apparent paradox in this model; specifically, laboratory studies inducing explicit shifts in contextual cues found less disruption of performance as retention intervals increased. Bouton, Nelson, and Rosas (see record1999-10106-001) critiqued several of the claims made by Riccio et al. and concluded that the contextual cue theory is still a valid account of spontaneous forgetting. In this comment, the authors address the 3 major criticisms offered by Bouton et al., point out an inconsistency in their argument, and conclude that the original paradox still poses problems for the contextual change theory of forgetting.


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