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Basic memory processes fundamentally affect the answers survey respondents give to survey questions, and retrieval is one of these memory processes. Retrieval refers to the active recovery of previously encoded information from long-term memory into conscious, working memory. Long-term memory that requires conscious retrieval is divided into (a) memory for facts and (b) memory for events. It is important for questionnaire designers to be aware of the limitations that retrieval processes place on the survey experience for the respondent.

The process of retrieving information and memories for events is closely related to the initial process of encoding, when a memory for the event is first stored by transferring information from active experience into long-term storage. The most difficult retrieval situation is unaided (free) recall, where there ...

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