How quickly we forget

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  28 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6213, pp. 1058-1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2341

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Since the beginning of the scientific study of human memory, there has been a tension between those who stress experimental control, even at the risk of oversimplifying and thus losing aspects of the behavior of interest (1), and those who stress studying behavior as close as possible to the way it exists naturally, with only enough control to produce replicable results (2, 3). The first approach optimistically assumes that the theory tested in the laboratory will generalize to more varied situations; the second counters that a careful, preferably quantitative, description of the phenomenon is needed—close to its full complexity—before a reasonable theory can be formulated, otherwise important aspects may be removed before a theory is considered. When it is possible, as in the study by Roediger and DeSoto (4) on page 1106 of this issue, combining both approaches is the most productive strategy.