Is the Media Scaring You Into Forgetting? The Effect of Mass Media Risk Perceptions on Socially Shared Retrieval-Induced Forgetting of Disease-Related Information

Berry, Jessica [Browse]
Senior thesis
70 pages


Coman, Alin [Browse]
Taylor, Jordan [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
The general public has begun to rely more upon mass media news broadcasting for their important health and disease-related information (Brodie, Kjellson, Hoff & Parker, 1999). However, the effects of this increased reliance have not always been considered. The situation of focus for the current study is one in which a health expert is interviewed via a mass media broadcast and in that broadcast only selectively recalls information about the disease, rather than providing a full depiction of the disease. It was hypothesized that this selective recall of information that is inherent in news broadcasts, would ultimately lead to socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting of disease-related information (Cuc, Koppel & Hirst, 2007; Coman, Coman & Hirst, 2013). Overall, this study focuses on two main questions: 1. How might the selective practice of previously encoded disease-related information by a mass media source affect an individual’s pre-existing memories about the disease? 2. Additionally, how do various risk perceptions for contracting the disease further affect these pre-existing memories about the disease after selective retrieval practice by a media source? An empirical study was conducted, which provided evidence that socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting can be produced for disease-related information as a result of a mass media broadcasts and the higher the risk communication about the disease, the greater the socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting effect for females, but not for males. Potential implications and future directions of these findings are discussed.

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