2021 Volume 63 Issue 1 Pages 20-41
Previous studies on the Think/No-Think (TNT) paradigm have demonstrated that retrieval stopping causes later forgetting. Although precise mechanisms of this retrieval stopping effect have come under scrutiny, a recent study (Hertel & Hayes, 2015) has provided a signpost finding; that is, in a flanker task subsequent to a TNT task, ratings of words flanked by cues for retrieval stopping were slower among those who stopped retrieval by pushing memories out of awareness (i.e., direct suppression), but not among those who did so by thinking of another memory (i.e., thought substitution). This result is attributable to two possible mechanisms: cues for direct suppression triggered some inhibitory mechanisms (inhibition transfer) or they drew more attention than other cues (attentional capture). The present study clarifies the aftereffect of direct suppression by conducting a TNT experiment with a dot-probe task, wherein probes appear following TNT cues, including suppression ones. Participants who engaged in thought substitution showed attentional capture by TNT cues; faster responses to probes presented in the same position of TNT cues, and slower responses to probes presented in the opposite position. However, those who engaged in direct suppression did not show attentional capture. These results are clearly inconsistent with the attentional capture account for the aftereffect of direct suppression, which, in turn, favours inhibition transfer account. Correlation analyses also supported inhibition transfer. Repeated direct suppression might associate suppression cues with inhibitory mechanisms, resulting in inhibition exerted automatically by the presentation of suppression cues.