Spacing repetitions generally facilitates memory for the repeated events. This article describes a theory of spacing effects that uses the same principles to account for both facilitatory and inhibitory effects of spacing in a number of memory paradigms. Increasing the spacing between repetitions is assumed to result in the storage of greater amounts of information of three types or levels: contextual, structural (associative), and descriptive. Contextual information is encoded automatically, while the encoding of the structural and descriptive information depends on control processes utilized. Remembering involves accessing the stored information using retrieval cues containing information on any level that matches the stored information. The ultimate effectiveness of the spacing is controlled by this matching between the retrieval cues and the stored information. Previous experiments demonstrating the operation of these principles on the structural and descriptive levels are reviewed. Three new experiments are reported that illustrate interactions between stored information and retrieval cues based on contextual information.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)