Forget What You Have Learned: The Effect of Meditation on Intentional Forgetting

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: St. Petersburg State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg
Occupation: Associate Professor of the Department of General Psychology
Affiliation: Saint Petersburg State University, Faculty of Psychology
Address: Saint Petersburg, Admiral Makarov Embankment, 6, Russia
Journal namePsikhologicheskii zhurnal
EditionVolume 43 Issue 6

One of the essential aspects of memory efficiency is the lack of recall (forgetting) of erroneous, traumatic, or unimportant information. Therefore, the development of tools for control and facilitation of forgetting is of particular importance. This work aims to investigate the impact of systematic mental training (open-monitoring meditation) on the magnitude of intentional forgetting effect. 106 volunteers (69 women, 18–35 years old) participated in our experiment. First, we measured 1) the intentional forgetting effect (using the think/not-thinking paradigm followed by a questionnaire on preferred intentional forgetting strategies) and 2) the Stroop effect (using the classic Stroop test). Second, participants either completed a course of 30 open-monitoring meditations (experimental group) or 30 sham meditations (control group 1), or were not subject to any intervention at all (control group 2). Finally, we performed the same measures as we did at the first stage of the study in order to register the effect of open-monitoring meditation on inhibition mechanisms that are presumably involved in the manifestation of intentional forgetting effect. We found no statistically significant influence of the intervention type neither on intentional forgetting effect nor Stroop effect. Although, it was shown that after the intervention, in the meditation group, cognitive strategies preventing intentional forgetting were used much less frequently than in the pseudomeditation (p=0.009) and control (p=0.007) groups, and forgetting-facilitating strategies were used more often than before the intervention (p=0.013). These results indicate the need for further investigation of the amnesogenic potential of various mental training types; also, they provide some indirect support for our initial suggestion about the impact of open-monitoring meditation on the magnitude of intentional forgetting effect.

Keywordsmemory, metamemory, intentional forgetting, mental training, meditation, open monitoring, think/no-think paradigm, Stroop test
AcknowledgmentThe study is financially supported by Saint Petersburg State University (project №94615876).
Publication date22.12.2022
Number of characters38795
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