Proactive Interference occurs when someone has old information about how to do things or how to think that interfere with how they learn new tasks or thought processes.
I believe this research finding is important because it explains why some simple tasks can be extra hard for some people. It is one of the factors for why even a professional athlete might struggle to be successful in another similar sport. I have personally experienced this research finding while downhill skiing.
When I was young I was taught how to ski by my grandfather and dad. The way they taught me worked great and I was able to get down the hill like a speed demon. When I was in high school I joined the downhill ski team and was met with a big surprise. Although I was able to ski fast, my form was completely wrong. The way my dad and grandfather had taught me wasn't completely wrong, but it was limiting my potential to be even faster. My coach's main criticism was that I was not leaning forward enough in my boots. I found this to be one of the hardest things to change about my skiing form. It felt so uncomfortable and unnatural. Trying to change caused me to crash a couple times.
Today I am able to easily ski with my weight in the front of my boots and I find it very natural. I can tell that by changing my form I can ski even better, but it was not easy to change my old habits. I had to endure many frustrating practices before I was able to ski confidently with my weight shifted forward.
After learning this concept I have wondered if there are techniques for dismantling your old memories faster. I feel that many people experience proactive interference and the frustrations associated with it. Because so many people have experienced it I wonder if there is a more systematic approach someone can take to learning a new task that helps you forget your old memories.