Inattention and suggested amnesia


D'Eon, Joyce L. M.




The major purpose of this study was to, test a prediction derived from the inattention hypothesis of suggested amnesia. According to this hypothesis, amnesia occurs to the extent that subjects attend away from the task of recall in response to an amnesia suggestion. This prediction held that in the absence of an amnesia suggestion, inattention, produced by a simultaneous task competing with recall, would create the same degree of "breakdown" in clustering as was produced by an amnesia suggestion. Seventy-one Carleton University students were assigned to one of three treatments, until 10 partial nonrecall subjects, with determinate clustering scores, were obtained in each condition. The first treatment was a high susceptible hypnotic group. These 36 subjects received a standard hypnotic induction procedure, and then learned a nine-word list which consisted of three categories of words with three words per category. After two successive correct recall trials, subjects were given an amnesia suggestion for the list, and challenged on the suggestion. Amnesia was then cancelled and recall again assessed. The second and third treatments consisted of both high and low susceptible subjects who received a distraction task. The 14 subjects in the high susceptible distraction group, and the 21 subjects in the low susceptible distraction group received four pretest trials counting backwards by three's. After learning the same word list as the hypnotic group they were requested to simultaneously count backwards by three's and recall words. Following this dual task, recall was again assessed without counting. For all groups both the degree of nonrecall and clustering was assessed on three trials: (a) the last criterion trial; (b) during the suggestion or simultaneous word recall/counting task; and (c) after the suggestion, simultaneous word recall/counting task. Results indicated that the 30 partial nonrecall subjects with determinate clustering scores showed equivalent levels of clustering "breakdown" during the suggestion or simultaneous word recall/counting task. Full recall subjects in all conditions showed no significant "breakdown". The hypnotic group showed significantly more nonrecall than the low susceptible distraction group. The prediction derived from the inattention hypothesis was confirmed.






Carleton University

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