The Social Impact of Being Forgotten: The Case of Medical Causes for Forgetting

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Recent research shows that when a person is forgotten, that person is likely to conclude that he or she is less important to the person doing the forgetting. This realisation in turn can hurt the respective relationship.

Interestingly, these consequences of being forgotten do not appear to be alleviated by mitigating explanations (such as being forgetful or distracted). Although people appear quite willing to generate excuses for others� memory failures, people still feel unimportant after they are forgotten. In this study we examined how a medical cause for the memory failure may excuse forgetting � perhaps forgetting is seen as less harmful to the relationship when explained by a medical cause.

In this study, you imagined a scenario in which you engaged in an online conversation with a stranger. In this conversation, your interaction partner discloses that they either have early onset dementia, a bad memory, or just poor driving abilities. Your interaction partner later appears to either remember or forget the details of your previous conversation. We are curious to see the differences in people�s impressions about their imagined relationship with someone who remembers or forgets them, given different available information about their memory.

If successful, this study will help inform our understanding of how forgetting due to a medical impairment impacts the person being forgotten and what effect it has on the relationship between the person being forgotten and the one doing the forgetting.

Please ask any questions you might have or discuss any concerns with Mr Andrei Pintea (PhD student) or Dr Devin G. Ray (supervisor) in the School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, by emailing or, respectively.

Thank you again for participating in our study.

For any further information you may refer to:

Papastavrou, E., Kalokerinou, A., Papacostas, S. S., Tsangari, H., & Sourtzi, P. (2007). Caring for a relative with dementia: Family caregiver burden. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 58(5), 446-457.

Ray, D. G., Gomillion, S., Pintea, A. I., & Hamlin, I. (2018). On being forgotten: Memory and forgetting serve as signals of interpersonal importance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.