Memory bias for negative emotional words in recognition memory is driven by effects of category membership

Corey N. White, Aycan Kapucu, Davide Bruno, Caren M. Rotello, Roger Ratcliff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recognition memory studies often find that emotional items are more likely than neutral items to be labelled as studied. Previous work suggests this bias is driven by increased memory strength/familiarity for emotional items. We explored strength and bias interpretations of this effect with the conjecture that emotional stimuli might seem more familiar because they share features with studied items from the same category. Categorical effects were manipulated in a recognition task by presenting lists with a small, medium or large proportion of emotional words. The liberal memory bias for emotional words was only observed when a medium or large proportion of categorised words were presented in the lists. Similar, though weaker, effects were observed with categorised words that were not emotional (animal names). These results suggest that liberal memory bias for emotional items may be largely driven by effects of category membership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-880
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Bias
  • Category effects
  • Emotional memory
  • Recognition memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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