Blocked and recovered memories of affective, distinctive, and neutral paragraphs
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Highly affective memories have been thought to be longer lasting and more detailed than other memories, and many experimental results have supported this assertion. The apparent robustness of these memories, however, may result from their high distinctiveness, rather than their emotional content. Two experiments tested free and cued recall for negative affect, distinctive, and neutral paragraphs. Experiment 1 compared neutral and negative affect paragraphs using a blocked and recovered memory technique. Affective paragraphs were remembered significantly better than neutral paragraphs in free recall of paragraph titles, regardless of condition. Details of neutral paragraphs were remembered significantly better than affective paragraphs, regardless of condition. No recovery effect was found. Experiment 2 compared distinctive and neutral paragraphs using the same technique. Free recall of paragraph titles did not differ between paragraph types. Neutral paragraphs were remembered better than distinctive paragraphs in cued recall, regardless of condition. Participants remembered significantly more with cued recall, and significantly more in the forget condition, and distinctive paragraphs were subject to a much greater forgetting effect than neutral paragraphs. It is unclear why a robust forgetting effect, using these stimuli, was not found. Consistent with previous literature, affective stimuli were remembered well, but inconsistently, distinctive stimuli were not. These results provide support for the claim that negative affect memories are more robust than other memories. This may result from their inherent emotional content as opposed to their being distinctive in some way.
Corbisier, Barbara Lynn (2007). Blocked and recovered memories of affective, distinctive, and neutral paragraphs. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from