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Front Behav Neurosci. 2013 Jun 14;7:72. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00072. eCollection 2013.

Memory accessibility and medical decision-making for significant others: the role of socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research, The New School , New York, NY , USA.


Medical decisions will often entail a broad search for relevant information. No sources alone may offer a complete picture, and many may be selective in their presentation. This selectivity may induce forgetting for previously learned material, thereby adversely affecting medical decision-making. In the study phase of two experiments, participants learned information about a fictitious disease and advantages and disadvantages of four treatment options. In the subsequent practice phase, they read a pamphlet selectively presenting either relevant (Experiment 1) or irrelevant (Experiment 2) advantages or disadvantages. A final cued recall followed and, in Experiment 2, a decision as to the best treatment for a patient. Not only did reading the pamphlet induce forgetting for related and unmentioned information, the induced forgetting adversely affected decision-making. The research provides a cautionary note about the risks of searching through selectively presented information when making a medical decision.


medical information; memory accessibility; retrieval-induced forgetting

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