The general, predictable pattern of the process of forgetting learned information.
Psychologists have been interested in the processes of learning and forgetting since the early days of the discipline. The researcher who pioneered this field, Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909), invented the nonsense syllable in order to be able to assess "pure" learning, that is, learning free of meaning, and the rate at which we forget. He served as his own subject and learned an incredible number of lists of nonsense syllables. He used material with little or no meaning because he was aware that learning new information is influenced by what we already know. He decided to create learning situations that were free of prior knowledge.
The way that we forget is highly predictable, following what psychologists call the forgetting curve. When we acquire knowledge, much of our forgetting occurs right away. Ebbinghaus discovered that a significant amount of information was forgotten within twenty minutes of learning; over half of the nonsense material he learned was forgotten within an hour. Although he forgot within a day almost two thirds of the material he learned, retention of the material did not decline much beyond that period. In other words, if information is retained for a day, the knowledge was there to stay.
Ebbinghaus's forgetting curve is actually much more dramatic than a forgetting curve would be for meaningful material. When the learner is able to connect new information with old information, he still might forget what was learned, but the amount and speed of forgetting is likely to be less than what Ebbinghaus experienced.
See also Ebbinghaus, Hermann
"Forgetting Curve." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/forgetting-curve
"Forgetting Curve." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/forgetting-curve
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.