Are emotional memories harder to intentionally forget? A meta-analysis

Hall, Kelsi (2020) Are emotional memories harder to intentionally forget? A meta-analysis. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The current meta-analysis explored whether emotional memories are less susceptible to item-method directed forgetting than neutral memories. The final sample used consisted of 31 studies with 36 independent samples. Basic analyses revealed superior memory for remember (R) than forget (F) items, with directed forgetting effects observed for both neutral, M = 19.6%, CI₉₅% [16.1%, 23.1%], and emotional, M = 15.1%, CI₉₅% [12.4%, 17.7%], conditions. Directed forgetting in either valence condition was larger for (a) words than complex stimuli; (b) recall than recognition tests; (c) studies that used recall prior to recognition; and, (d) studies that included buffer items. Comparison within-studies revealed diminished directed forgetting of emotional items compared to neutral, with an average difference of 4.2%, CI₉₅% [2.0%, 6.4%]. However, this finding varied, meaning that whether – and to what degree – emotional memories are more resilient than neutral memories depends on the methodological features of the study in question. Larger differences were present in studies where emotional items were more arousing than neutral and when buffer items were included. These findings suggest that emotional memories are (often) more resilient to intentional forgetting than neutral memories.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 14803
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-80).
Keywords: Directed forgetting, Emotion, Intentional forgetting, Memory
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: September 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Memory

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