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Failing to Recall: Examining the Effects of Trace Decay and Interference on Memory for Campaign Information



Voters are continuously bombarded with information during political campaigns, yet a consistent conclusion from research on voter learning is that individuals remember far less information about political candidates than one might expect. What remains unclear is why memory for campaign information is so poor. The present study examines two explanations for memory failure. Using an experimental design, the present study explores whether campaign information fades from memory (trace decay) or whether extraneous information impedes an individual's subsequent ability to recall campaign information (interference). The results suggest that examining the ways in which the larger information environment influences recall of campaign information has important implications for the importance we attribute to campaign information in models of voter decision making.