Does mental context reinstatement mitigate Retrieval Induced Forgetting in eyewitnesses?
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The current study sought to examine Retrieval Induced Forgetting (RIF) as it may occur within an investigative setting, while also assessing Mental Context Reinstatement (MCR) as a tool to mitigate this forgetting. Various methodological shortcomings of similar past research were addressed and systematically altered to better replicate the procedures of a real investigation. Participants were exposed to a mock-crime involving two offenders. Subsequently, half of the participants received follow-up questioning regarding 5 of 10 possible characteristics for one offender, all participants completed a distractor task, before finally completing a final recall of offender characteristics. Prior to final questioning, half the participants received MCR. While RIF was not observed, MCR was effective in reducing the rate at which forgetting occurred. Results suggest that RIF may not be as problematic in a forensic setting as once thought, and that MCR is an effective memory facilitative tool. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.