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Survival processing versus self-reference : a memory advantage following descriptive self-referential encoding

Dewhurst, Stephen A.; Anderson, Rachel J.; Grace, Lydia; Boland, Jennifer

Authors

Dr Rachel Anderson Rachel.Anderson@hull.ac.uk
Reader/Programme Director Psychology PG Research (PhD, MSc by Research, MRes)

Lydia Grace

Jennifer Boland



Abstract

Previous research has shown that rating words for their relevance to a survival scenario leads to better retention of the words than rating them for self-reference. Past studies have, however, relied exclusively on an autobiographical self-reference task in which participants rate how easily a common noun brings to mind a personal experience. We report five experiments comparing survival processing to a descriptive self-reference task in which participants rated how well trait words described them. Rating trait adjectives for survival value led to higher levels of recall and recognition than rating them for their relevance to a moving home scenario. Rating the adjectives for self-reference, however, led to higher levels of recall (Experiments 1 and 3) and recollection (Experiment 2) than survival rating. Experiment 4 replaced trait adjectives with trait nouns and found that self-reference led to greater recognition accuracy than survival processing. Experiment 5 used trait nouns followed by tests of free recall and found a memory advantage following self-reference that was not influenced by the imageability of the stimuli. The findings are discussed in terms of theories of the survival processing and self-reference effects and the relationship between them.

Citation

Dewhurst, S. A., Anderson, R. J., Grace, L., & Boland, J. (2017). Survival processing versus self-reference : a memory advantage following descriptive self-referential encoding. Journal of Memory and Language, 94, 291-304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2017.01.003

Acceptance Date Jan 25, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2017
Publication Date 2017-06
Deposit Date Jan 25, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 6, 2018
Journal Journal of memory and language
Print ISSN 0749-596X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 94
Pages 291-304
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2017.01.003
Keywords Survival processing; Self-reference effect; Recall; Recognition
Public URL https://hull-repository.worktribe.com/output/447583
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749596X17300037
Copyright Statement ©2018, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Journal of memory and language, 2017, v.94

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