Why do we Forget Something?

Why we forget ..? Forgetting can be defined as Partial or Complete Loss of information of Previously learned material. It is the loss of information already & encoded in our long term memory.
The pioneering work on forgetting was done by Herman Ebbinghous. He gave classical curve of forgetting. His curve suggests that maximum forgetting is immediately after leaving the task & it slows down with passage of time. Forgetting & retention are two sides of the coin .

Factors which influence forgetting:

Amount of material

Longer list is difficult to learn but once learned, it is retained better than shorter List .

Pattern Of Material (Von Restore effect)

Material which is highlighted or made distinct from the rest is remembered well.

Why we forget something: Forgetting reasons and causes
Why we forget something: reasons and causes

Method of Learning (Part vs Whole) ( Distributed vs Amassed)

Whole learning is useful when material is of moderate length, subjects are intelligent & material is abstract Part learning is useful when material to be learnt is very long , Some parts are of specific difficulty level and the material can easily be split into sub-units . In general, distributed practice is superior to massed practice because its prevent fatigue from hampering performance, reduces interference and prevent boredom from setting in.

Personality factors

Personality factors like age, motivation, sex and Intelligence are known to influence the extent of forgetting. Other factors like interest and aptitude also influence forgetting.
Related article: Personality Improvement
Related article: Why is sleep important


Learning that is carried out after one or two perfect recalls of the materials to be remembered is called over learning. This is the best way to delay and minimize forgetting.
Related article: Healing Mind


Knowledge of how well one is doing helps to improve on retention test. A positive feedback encourages the individual to be a better learner. Also Read; Developing Brain Skills

Nature of material

Logically organized & meaningful material is better remembered than the disorganized one.


Greater the experience on the task, easier it becomes to remember it. Practice makes a man perfect is an old saying.

forgetting and retention
Why we forget something: factors affecting forgetting and retention

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