Initial Retrieval Difficulty and Subsequent Recall in an Advertising Setting

By Mark ForehandKevin Keller
1995| Working Paper No. 1331

This research examines the proposition that the difficulty encountered during initial retrievals from memory is positively associated with subsequent recall ability. This proposition is tested experimentally by examining the longitudinal effects of advertising retrieval cues on memory. Although these cures initially facilitate recall by activating adbased retrieval routes, they may hinder subsequent recall in two ways. First, the presence of an ad cue reduces the likelihood of activating and strengthening brand name-based routes which may be useful at delay. Second, ad cues simplify the retrieval process and lower the amount of effort required for successful retrieval. As a result, ad-based retrieval routes are not strenghtened as much by use as are brand name-based routes. Together, these effects suggest that consumer memory traces are most resistant to decay if initial retrieval is successful and occurs without advertising retrieval cues. An experiment using a 2 (cue at time 1) X 2 (cue at time 2) between subject factorial design provides evidence supporting this prediction.