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ERIC Number: EJ1067674
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jul
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Adaptive Memory: Thinking about Function
Bell, Raoul; Röer, Jan P.; Buchner, Axel
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v41 n4 p1038-1048 Jul 2015
Rating the relevance of words for the imagined situation of being stranded in the grasslands without survival material leads to exceptionally good memory for these words. This survival processing effect has received much attention because it promises to elucidate the evolutionary foundations of memory. However, the proximate mechanisms of the survival processing effect have to be identified before informed speculations about its adaptive function are possible. Here, we test and contrast 2 promising accounts of the survival processing effect. According to the 1st account, the effect is the consequence of the prioritized processing of threat-related information. According to the 2nd account, thinking about the relevance of items for survival stimulates thinking about object function, which is a particularly elaborate form of encoding. Experiment 1 showed that the emotional properties of the survival scenario, as manipulated by the negative or positive framing of the scenario, did not influence recall. A focus on threat at encoding led to worse recall than a focus on function. The latter finding was replicated in Experiment 2, which further showed that focusing on threat did not lead to a memory advantage over a pleasantness control condition. The beneficial effect of inducing a functional focus at encoding even surpasses that of the standard survival processing instruction. Together, the results support the theory that thinking about function is an important component of the survival processing effect.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A