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Inhibition in goal systems: a retrieval-induced forgetting account

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date05/2008
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Journal number3
Volume44
Number of pages9
Pages857-865
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In social psychological models of goals, particular means or goals that receive more activation are pursued while their counterparts are "inhibited." To account for inhibition, these theories emphasize structural distribution of resources and the consequences of goal or means choices. Absent are alternate accounts of inhibition based on memory processes that rely on retrieval or recall of items. We propose that the act of recalling means or goals from memory entails inhibition of competing alternatives. Two experiments using repeated retrieval paradigms present evidence that recalling one means associated with a particular goal inhibits competing means. Moreover, this inhibitory mechanism is sensitive to the structural relationship of goals and means. Implications for models of inhibition in goal pursuit are discussed.