Background Comments and Three Analytic Concepts
This chapter describes several experiments that discriminate among theoretical positions on the role of similarity in short-term memory for the purpose of comparing the displacement and interference theories. There are three principal versions of interference theory, which are in fact three very different hypotheses. First, it describes an application to short-term retention of the classical interference theory of long-term memory. The chapter then focuses on the abstractions of primary and secondary memory in order to examine a more tangible problem for theoretical analysis. There are three major theoretical approaches to the loss of information in short-term memory, decay, displacement, and interference. The choice between displacement and interference turns mainly on the role that similarity plays in short-term memory. Finally, these ideas are focused on the empirical laws of forgetting that have been generated from the Brown-Peterson task.