Trade-offs in visual attention and the enhancement of memory specificity for positive and negative emotional stimuli

Chipchase, Susan Y. and Chapman, Peter (2013) Trade-offs in visual attention and the enhancement of memory specificity for positive and negative emotional stimuli. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 6 (2). pp. 277-298. ISSN 1747-0218

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Emotional influences on memory can lead to trade-offs in memory for gist or detail and trade-offs in memory for central or peripheral aspects of an event. Attentional narrowing has often been proposed as a theoretical explanation for this pattern of findings with negative emotion. These trade-offs have been less extensively investigated with positive emotion. In three experiments, we investigate memory for specific visual details of positive and negative stimuli, examine central-peripheral trade-offs in memory and assess the hypothesis that attentional narrowing contributes to emotional enhancement of memory specificity. We found memory for details was enhanced by negative and positive emotion. Central-peripheral trade-offs were found in memory for negative emotional stimuli but not in memory for positive emotional stimuli. These trade-offs with negative emotion were associated with attentional narrowing at the time of encoding, as measured by eye movements. There were no attentional effects at the time of encoding found with positive emotional stimuli. Evidence was found for the attentional narrowing hypothesis of memory specificity and central-peripheral trade-offs in memory for negative emotional events. Alternative explanations for the positive emotional enhancement of memory specificity are required.

Keywords:emotion, memory, attention, recognition
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5908
Deposited On:21 Jun 2012 16:36

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