Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Paul Lorpinzi

Second Advisor

Jeremy Loenneke

Third Advisor

Matthew Jessee

Relational Format



Directed forgetting (DF) is an adaptive process in which individuals engage in strategies to intentionally forget information. The prevailing strategy for DF is to engage in an effective mental context change after receiving the instructions to forget. We utilized a list-method DF manipulation under both experiments conducted and analyzed the ratio of words impaired from List 1 and enhanced from List 2. The two experiments conducted aimed to first confirm that an ineffective context change will not induce a DF effect, and secondly confirm an effective mental context change will induce a DF effect. Experiment one utilized thirty-nine university students (Mage = 20.6 years) who completed a counterbalanced four-list within-subject study design involving a single laboratory visit. Participants received both the forget and remember cue with a five minute break in between conditions. During experiment two, forty-eight university students followed the same four-list within-subject design, with a change only during the forget cue instructions and duration. The forget cue instructed the participant to engage in diverting thoughts (an effective mental context change) for one minute. Experiment one participants engaged in both the remember and forget conditions (counterbalanced ordering). Individuals would encode their first list then receive remember or forget instructions. These instructions did not include any diverting thoughts and were directly followed by List 2 words for encoding. Immediately after they encoded another list then were asked to recall from both lists before beginning the next condition. During experiment two, the methods were identical, yet during forget instructions participants were asked to engage in diverting thoughts for one minute. The diverting thoughts instructed participants to remember their most recent big event and describe it in as much detail as possible. The remember cue was also extended for a minute for consistency. Exp. 2 results demonstrated a significant cost effect, in that List 1 was lower in the Forget condition compared to the Remember condition, Mdiff = .25, t = 7.92, p < .001. Similarly, a benefit effect occurred, in that List 2 was higher in the Forget condition compared to the Remember condition, Mdiff = .10, t = 3.17, p = .01. Exp. 1 did not observe a significant cost or benefit effect between conditions. Exp. 2 did observe a significant cost and benefit effect between conditions. We provided evidence that people can intentionally forget information and that effective mental context change modulates the effects of DF. Our future research will evaluate if acute exercise can enhance this DF effect.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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Available for download on Wednesday, June 24, 2026