Recognition memory for emotional words under incidental encoding : effects of valance, arousal and age

Kaynak, Hande
Emotional information is commonly assumed to be recognized more accurately than neutral information. While emotionality enhances recognition accuracy, it also induces a more liberal response bias. In this study, the effects of arousal and valence axes of emotion on recognition memory accuracy and liberal bias were examined in young and older adults, for emotional words. For this purpose, memory was assessed with a surprise old/new recognition task, based on Signal Detection Theory. There are also some factors regarding words that influence visual word recognition. One is the dissociation between consonants and vowels; consonants and vowels are processed differently. In the study session, the participants were instructed to count vowels within a word under incidental encoding. Since vowels constrain lexical selection less tightly than consonants, deciding how many vowels each word contained is compatible with the idea that the vowels should be processed faster. The results of the recognition session showed that young adults recognized more accurately as compared to older adults, replicating the age effect. Valence differences of words also showed a significant effect on memory performance, that is positive words were recognized better in both groups. On the other hand, it was observed that there was a significant bias to respond as ‘old’ only to positive words in older group; whereas young adults showed a liberal bias to negative words. This age-related difference suggested that older adults regulated their emotion in favour of maintaining well-being, even incidentally. Considering individual differences and mood state in emotional word processing is essential so personality traits and current mood states were assessed by commonly used Five Factor Personality Inventory and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule respectively. Except ‘openness to experience’, other personality dimensions did not predict recognition memory performance for emotional words.
Citation Formats
H. Kaynak, “Recognition memory for emotional words under incidental encoding : effects of valance, arousal and age,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2013.