The retrieval failure theory is a theory of forgetting.
The retrieval failure theory refers to one’s incapacity to utilise internal or external cues to retrieve previously-stored information. That is, whilst the information is stored in memory and is, theoretically, available, the necessary prompts are not present. This is often exemplified by the ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ phenomenon.
The retrieval failure theory does not appear to apply to procedural memory.
The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is a significant part of the retrieval failure theory. It refers to the sensation where an individual believes that they know the answer or a particular piece of information, but is unable to retrieve it from their memory store. Experiencing this sensation can, understandably, be particularly frustrating.
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