October 4th, 2009 by Jashodhara Purkayastha

The meaning of the word ‘Forgetting ‘ is fail to retain in memory. It is a Spontaneous or gradual process in which old memories are unable to be recalled from memory storage. Forgetting is also important in life. If forgetting does not take place in life, unpleasant situation or experience will grab us and our life will be miserable.

According to Munn,” Forgetting is the loss, permanent or temporary, of the ability to recall or recognize something learned earlier “.

“Forgetting means failure at any time to recall an experiences, when attempting to do so, or to perform an action previously learnt”—- Drever.

Causes of Forgetting


  • *         Nature of learning
  • *         Amount of learning
  • *         Degree of learning
  • *         Defective method of learning
  • *         Lack of interest & attention
  • *         Lapse Of Time
  • *         Age and intelligence
  • *         Lack of repetition
  • *         Doubt
  • *         Brain injury
  • *         Desire to forget
  • *         Mental shock
  • *         Use of intoxicant
  • *         Mental conflict
  • *         Mental disease
  • *         Emotional causes


*        Theory of Disuse

*        Repression theory

*        Theory of interference

1) Theory of Disuse : This theory is accepted by Hermann Ebbinghaus. According to him, if the learning material is not used for a long period of time we tend to forget it. Through his experiment he has proved that forgetting takes place due to lapse of time.

2) Repression theory: This theory was ascertained by Sigmund Freud and other psycho analyst. According to them, people do not want to recall the unpleasant or unwanted event which occurred in their life time.

3) Theory of interference:  This theory has been supported by Woodworth, Gular and others. According to them , if any work comes in between learning and recall  it is difficult to remember the already learnt material. This is called Retrospective Inhibition. E.g. as we grow we tend to forget the poem learnt in our childhood.

General causes

Nature of learning Material :  If learning materials are pleasant, simple and meaningful then we do not forget them easily.

Amount of Learning  Material: If the learning material is too long, it takes more time and needs practice.  Due to more practice , we can remember it for a long time.If the learning material is short ,we learn it faster and tends to forget faster.

Degree of learning : We tend to forget the under learning material faster. If we learn for a long time we remember it better.

Defective method of learning : If the proper method is not used while learning , forgetting take place faster.

Lack of interest and attention : Attention and interest are two sides of a coin . If there is no interest in learning there will be no concentration and forgetting will be faster.

Lapse of Time : Time is very precious. If there is a long gap between learning material we tend to forget easily. e.g after a long gap of study ( graduation) if anyone wants to do a new course (e.g M.A ).

Age and Intelligence : Forgetting depends on age and intelligence. Elderly people and sharp intelligent tend to forget faster.

Lack of Repetition : If the learning material is not repeated for a long time ,it can not be recalled properly.

Desire to Forget : Unpleasant moment of life should not be brought to the memory. e.g if the child learns without his will , he tends to forget it easily.

Doubt : Self confidence become less if the person is having a doubt in his mind ,he tends to forget faster.

Brain Injury : If a person meets with an accident and injured his brain, he tends to forget.

Mental shock : Sudden mental shock is injurious to  mental health (memory etc )

Mental conflict : Mental conflict is also a sign of forgetfulness.

Use of intoxicants : The person who smokes, drinks alcohol or take intoxicants forget faster compared to general people.

Mental Disease : Mental disease or disorder makes the memory power weak.

Emotional causes : Emotional breakdown causes forgetting.

Forgetting  is also a necessary aspect of learning like memory.

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