Date of Award

6-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Janine Buckner

Committee Member

Kelly Goedert

Committee Member

Susan Teague

Keywords

Political Messages, Inhibition, Prior Attitudes

Abstract

Abstract Retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) is a phenomenon wherein repeatedly accessing a portion of information causes decreases in memory for related information that is not practiced (Anderson, Bjork, Bjork, 1994). This study applied the retrieval practice paradigm commonly used in cognitive research to persuasive political statements in order to understand the cognitive implications that selective exposure to political messages may have. This study had a mixed design, with retrieval practice agreement (proattitudinal or counterattitudinal), attitude extremity (neutral, moderate, extreme), gender, and practiced issue (affirmative action or gun control) as between subject variables and item practice status (retrieval practiced, non-practiced/shared stance, non-practiced/shared issue, and non-practiced/different issue) as a within-subjects variable. As it was hypothesized that participants' attitudes might moderate RIF effects, attitude strength and extremity for each issue were assessed as well as potential moderating variables. Participants (n=l24) were presented all sentences in the study phase, were given 3 trials of retrieval practice for 5 sentences from one stance, and then a recognition task determined participants' accuracy and response time in distinguishing all original sentences from lures (inversions of those original sentences). Analysis (controlling for attitude strength and retrieval practice accuracy) failed to reveal any signs of RIF for hit or false alarm rates or in reaction times, but attitude extremity did affect recognition: while there was no difference between unpracticed items for neutral participants, moderate participants had lower hit rates for unpracticed control items relative to unpracticed items from the same issue as the practiced items. Males showed more false alarms for unpracticed/same stance items relative to all other items while females showed fewer false alarms for these items. While there was no clear evidence of RIF, this research may contribute to future studies on this topic.

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