Retrieving an item from memory can cause subsequent suppression of related items. This phenomenon, involving a procedure where participants retrieve category-exemplar pairs (e.g. FRUIT-orange), is known as Retrieval Induced Forgetting (RIF). Individuals who demonstrate greater amounts of RIF also exhibit greater working memory capacity (WMC). Reasoning ability is highly related to WMC, which may suggest that a similar relation exists between RIF and Reasoning ability. The goal of the present investigation was to examine this possibility. Rotation Span and a Letter Number task were used as indicators of WMC and a Cognitive Reflection Test was used to measure Reasoning ability. A significant RIF effect was found, but it did not significantly correlate with WMC or Reasoning ability. These results demonstrate the importance of designing a RIF task appropriately, selecting measures of Reasoning ability, and the theoretical accounts of the RIF effect. One possibility is that by not controlling for output interference, the obtained RIF effect cannot be reasoned to come from the executive control process as suggested by the inhibition account. Although this account is the chief explanation of the RIF effect, it has been challenged by alternative accounts and it remains unclear how the underlying mechanism of RIF is related to higher cognitive abilities.
- The role of inhibitory control in working memory capacity and reasoning ability