The forgetting curve: Hermann Ebbinghaus

Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve is a theory of forgetting.

Hermann Ebbinghaus proposes that all individuals tend to forget new information in a similar manner, at a similar rate, regardless of its complexity. According to Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve (shown below), most information is forgotten in the initial period of learning, particularly in the first twenty minutes. After about one hour, the majority of information learned has been forgotten. After this period, forgetting occurs at a much slower rate.


Note that the diagram is not to scale.

Forgetting may be due to a number of reasons: