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Thinking about “why” eliminates retrieval‐induced forgetting: Levels of construal affect retrieval dynamics

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


The present study examined how levels of construal affect retrieval‐induced forgetting. Higher‐level construal is associated with the focus on the similarities among stimuli, suggesting that high‐level construal promotes relational processing. Based on this fact, retrieval‐induced forgetting may be reduced or eliminated under high‐level construal condition because of the effect of relational processing. Two experiments were conducted using a retrieval‐practice paradigm with different stimuli while priming the level of construal. A meta‐analysis synthesizing the results showed that retrieval‐induced forgetting occurred under the low‐level construal condition, whereas forgetting did not occur under the high‐level construal condition. These results suggest that abstract thinking can eliminate retrieval‐induced forgetting because of relational processing, demonstrating the role of the levels of construal on memory inhibition.