Interference: what is it? & possible solutions

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I dread getting the email from the saying “UMW’s policy requires users to change Active Directory (AD) passwords every 90 days and your password is set to expire in 10 days.” I feel as if I just had changed my password and was finally starting to remember it and now have to remember a brand new password. Therefore, I decided to make a meme describing my struggle and possibly other students struggle here at Mary Wash!

Since we are required to frequently changing our password at UMW, I am continuously struggling with proactive interference.  Before I get into what I mean by this, what is interference?

Interference is the competition between targets for activation of retrieval cues and there are two types of interference: retroactive and proactive. Retroactive interference is when new information inhibits our ability to recall old information. For example, say your family moved a few years ago to another state. You most likely have your current house address memorized and it may take you a while to remember what your old house address was where you use to live because your retrieval cue for your home address actively retrieves where you live currently since you use your current home address for mail services, shipping, bills, GPS, etc.

In my case, and I assume other UMW students have the similar struggle I have, proactive interference is when the old information inhibits our ability to recall or remember new information. We use EagleNet, Canvas, and Windows in the UMW labs, library, convergence center, and offices everyday (or at least I do). So when we have to change our password every 90 days, the first few days, week, or even month we may enter our old password because we were so use to typing our old password for logging into UMW systems every day.

Some tips to maybe help fellow UMW students out if they are struggling with proactive interference? I know my computer and tablet that I use to log on to EagleNet and Canvas give me the option to “automatically save this password for this site?” or “update this password for this site?” and I always do it for my devices to help me out so it’s quicker when I use my devices in my room or on campus. I also make a password that is somewhat sequential. For example, say  I started off with “MaryWash17A” for my first password, then the next 90 days when I have to update it I would change my password to “MaryWash17B”, “MaryWash17C”, ….etc. For some reason that helps me out so when I type in my old password at the library and it says “invalid password” (proactive interference) I know that I probably just have change the last letter of my password to the next letter in the alphabet. Some people put their passwords in a notes app in their phone so when you update your password, put it in your notes in case you keep putting in your old password you know where your new password will be!

I hope you guys enjoyed my meme! If you have any other tips on how to remember new passwords please comment; I’d love to hear your ideas!

6 thoughts on “Interference: what is it? & possible solutions

  1. mdeasis

    I really enjoyed this article not only because it was so relatable but you offered a scientific explanation that related back to lecture about this (annoying) phenomenon. I also liked that you incorporated tips on how to remember your password especially for our UMW one which, like you said, needed to be updated every 90 days. Good job!

  2. Alyssa

    I do this all of the time! Especially because of the vast amount of passwords we have to remember on a daily basis, from varying social media sites to our school website. It is no wonder there is proactive interference. Storing the passwords in your computer is definitely helpful for it saves us the trouble of having to consistently send requests to the UMW help desk to change our password. Apparently our long-term memory has an infinite amount of storage, though that isn’t as helpful when we wish to select one piece of information from the same category (such as a password from a website that has multiple other passwords saved in our long-term memory) and it almost seems like it is more of a curse than a blessing. Luckily, with the help of the repetition and your tips, I believe the amount of proactive interference will become less of a hindrance.

  3. Shawn

    So many, many passwords to remember! I don’t really have any tips or tricks but I’ll give away my little secret. I use the same words and just change up a few things like the number and special characters. Doing it this way I always can at least deduce what my password is, it’s just a matter of figuring out the combination used. Between work and school though, they get a little mixed up. Very well done!

  4. amarti22

    This is what I like to call the struggle of our generation, hahaha. Mainly because almost everything we use now a days, email, social media, apps, educative online systems, all require to have a username and password, but how many passwords can you create and actively remember every time. I sometimes feel like I am going to become my grandpa with my little notepad with all the passwords written down.

  5. cbudd33

    This is great! Reminds me of the saying #firstworldproblems 🙂 But I would say its definitely a college student problem! I know I have SOOO many different accounts, between the UMW canvas/campus computer one, the email one, the Norton Zaps/Blog site for this class, MasteringA&P for Physiology, and several passwords for different databases for all of my Psych classes….It’s a wonder I somehow remember them!!!!!!!
    I definitely appreciate your tips! The letter idea is very smar t (I’ll definitely be implementing that into my password changing cycle)! What I tend to do is just write every account username and password into my planner at the beginning of the semester….then update them as I go!
    Also, I loved your scientific backup! For a while, I kept getting proactive and retroactive interference confused. You definitely cleared that up for me!
    Thanks for the fun, creative post! 🙂

  6. alliebranum

    I just got an email saying my password was about to expire just yesterday. It’s always such a struggle to be able to keep up with which password I have for which account. I always keep my passwords in my notes on my phone, but somehow I still manage to type in old passwords and now I know why! Really well done. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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