Picturing survival memories: Enhanced memory after fitness-relevant processing occurs for verbal and visual stimuli

Henry Otgaar, Tom Smeets, Saskia van Bergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that processing words according to a survival scenario leads to superior retention relative to control conditions. Here, we examined whether a survival recall advantage could be elicited by using pictures. Furthermore, in Experiment 1, we were interested in whether survival processing also results in improved memory for details. Undergraduates rated the relevance of pictures in a survival, moving, or pleasantness scenario and were subsequently given a surprise free recall test. We found that survival processing yielded superior retention. We also found that distortions occurred more often in the survival condition than in the pleasantness condition. In Experiment 2, we directly compared the survival recall effect between pictures and words. A comparable survival recall advantage was found for pictures and words. The present findings support the idea that memory is enhanced by processing information in terms of fitness value, yet at the same time, the present results suggest that this may increase the risk for memory distortions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
JournalMemory & Cognition
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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