One hundred years of forgetting: A quantitative description of retention

Journal Article

A sample of 210 published data sets were assembled that (a) plotted amount remembered versus time, (b) had 5 or more points, and (c) were smooth enough to fit at least 1 of the functions tested with a correlation coefficient of .90 or greater. Each was fit to 105 different 2-parameter functions. The best fits were to the logarithmic function, the power function, the exponential in the square root of time, and the hyperbola in the square root of time. It is difficult to distinguish among these 4 functions with the available data, but the same set of 4 functions fit most data sets, with autobiographical memory being the exception. Theoretical motivations for the best fitting functions are offered. The methodological problems of evaluating functions and the advantages of searching existing data for regularities before formulating theories are considered.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rubin, DC; Wenzel, AE

Published Date

  • December 1, 1996

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