Can Questioning Induce Forgetting? Retrieval-Induced Forgetting of Eyewitness Information


Gino Camp, Department of Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



In eyewitness situations, questioning can be seen as a form of retrieval practice that may have detrimental effects on eyewitness memory. Memory research has demonstrated that retrieval practice may not only enhance memory for practiced information but also induce forgetting of related information. The present study examined the effect of retrieval practice on forgetting in eyewitness memory. First, we investigated whether asking questions about particular offender characteristics can induce forgetting of other offender characteristics. Second, we examined whether this forgetting effect is limited to information from the practiced offender or may also influence memory for characteristics of others present in the crime scene. Third, we studied whether forgetting of eyewitness information occurs in the absence of output interference effects. We found that questioning induced forgetting of offender characteristics. Moreover, the forgetting effect was not limited to information about the practiced offender. Finally, forgetting was found even when output order was experimentally controlled. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.