Conducted 3 experiments with 201 undergraduates to investigate the relative memorability of solved vs unsolved problems in long-term memory. In each experiment, Ss worked on a set of potentially solvable word problems, with the time spent on each problem held constant. Problem memorability was then measured with a free-recall task. In Exp 1, in which a majority of problems were solved, unsolved problems were better remembered. In Exps 2 and 3, these results were expanded on by manipulating problem difficulty and thus the ratio of solved to unsolved problems. Across all 3 experiments, the ratio of solved to unsolved problems was found to be a significant predictor of unsolved-problem memorability. Results illustrate that when impasses in problem solving are infrequent, they are more available in memory than are solved problems.
- problem solving,
- Zeigarnik effect