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Inhibitory effects of thought substitution in the think/no-think task: evidence from independent cues

del Prete, Francesco; Hanczakowski, Maciej; Bajo, Maria Teresa; Mazzoni, Giuliana


Francesco del Prete

Maciej Hanczakowski

Maria Teresa Bajo

Giuliana Mazzoni


When people try not to think about a certain item, they can accomplish this goal by using a thought substitution strategy and think about something else. Research conducted with the think/no-think (TNT) paradigm indicates that such strategy leads subsequently to forgetting the information participants tried not to think about. The present study pursued two goals. First, it investigated the mechanism of forgetting due to thought substitution, contrasting the hypothesis by which forgetting is due to blocking caused by substitutes with the hypothesis that forgetting is due to inhibition (using an independent cue methodology). Second, a boundary condition for forgetting due to thought substitution was examined by creating conditions under which the generation of appropriate substitutes would be impaired. In two experiments, participants completed a TNT task under thought substitution instructions in which either words or pseudo-words were used as original cues and memory was assessed with original and independent cues. The results revealed forgetting in both original and independent cue tests, supporting the inhibitory account of thought substitution, but only when cues were words, and not when they were non-words, pointing to the ineffectiveness of a thought substitution strategy when original cues lack semantic content.


del Prete, F., Hanczakowski, M., Bajo, M. T., & Mazzoni, G. (2015). Inhibitory effects of thought substitution in the think/no-think task: evidence from independent cues. Memory, 23(4), 507-517.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2014
Online Publication Date Apr 23, 2014
Publication Date May 19, 2015
Deposit Date Apr 23, 2015
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Memory
Print ISSN 0965-8211
Electronic ISSN 1464-0686
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 507-517
Keywords Thought substitution, Suppression, Inhibition
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:


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