Intentional Forgetting in Socio-Digital Work Systems

System Characteristics and User-related Psychological Consequences on Emotion, Cognition, and Behavior


  • Thomas Ellwart University of Trier
  • Anna-Sophie Ulfert University of Trier
  • Conny Herbert Antoni University of Trier
  • Jörg Becker University of Münster
  • Christian Frings University of Trier
  • Kyra Göbel Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Guido Hertel University of Münster
  • Anette Kluge Ruhr University Bochum
  • Sarah M. Meeßen University of Münster
  • Cornelia Niessen Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Christoph Nohe University of Münster
  • Dennis M. Riehle University of Münster
  • Yannick Runge University of Trier
  • Ute Schmid Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg
  • Arnulf Schüffler Ruhr University Bochum
  • Michael Siebers Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg
  • Sabine Sonnentag University of Mannheim
  • Tobias Tempel Ludwigsburg University of Education
  • Meinald T. Thielsch University of Münster
  • Wilken Wehrt University of Mannheim



Intentional Forgetting, unlearning of routines, transactive memory systems


Future work environments offer numerous technical applications to manage increasing amounts of information for organizations, teams, and individuals. Psychological concepts of intentional forgetting (IF) can be applied to improve the performance of work systems or to extend cognitive capacities of humans in technical systems. Different IF mechanisms have been suggested for assisting technology-aided IF, such as: (1) filtering of irrelevant or distressful information (e.g., by suppressing, deleting, or selecting), (2) delegating tasks from human to digital agents, changing roles, and reorganizing socio-digital work systems, or (3) systematic (re-)placement of retrieval cues or triggers to generate or suppress behavior. Due to these different underlying IF mechanisms, the implementation of IF at individual, team, and organizational level will differ substantially between work areas or systems. In order to gain a better understanding of how socio-digital applications of IF impact human behavior and reactions, it is necessary to (a) differentiate between relevant characteristics of socio-digital IF systems and (b) gain an understanding of how these characteristics impact users’ attitudes and performance. Thus, the present paper aims to classify and compare these characteristics of different applications of IF and introduces variables and methods to study psychological effects on users’ behavior, experience, and affective reactions.


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How to Cite

Ellwart, T., Ulfert, A.-S., Antoni, C.H., Becker, J., Frings, C., Göbel, K., Hertel, G., Kluge, A., Meeßen, S.M., Niessen, C., Nohe, C., Riehle, D.M., Runge, Y., Schmid, U., Schüffler, A., Siebers, M., Sonnentag, S., Tempel, T., Thielsch, M.T. and Wehrt, W. 2019. Intentional Forgetting in Socio-Digital Work Systems: System Characteristics and User-related Psychological Consequences on Emotion, Cognition, and Behavior. AIS Transactions on Enterprise Systems. 4, 1 (May 2019). DOI: