Discriminating Between Changes in Bias and Changes in Accuracy for Recognition Memory of Emotional Stimuli

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Emotional Stimulus, Neutral Word, Emotional Word, Valenced Stimulus, Null Pair

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A debate has emerged as to whether recognition of emotional stimuli is more accurate or more biased than recognition of nonemotional stimuli. Teasing apart changes in accuracy versus changes in bias requires a measurement model. However, different models have been adopted by different researchers, and this has contributed to the current debate. In this article, different measurement models are discussed, and the signal detection model that is most appropriate for recognition is adopted to investigate the effects of valence and arousal on recognition memory performance, using receiver operating characteristic analyses. In addition, complementary two-alternative forced choice experiments were conducted in order to generalize the empirical findings and interpret them under a relatively relaxed set of measurement assumptions. Across all experiments, accuracy was greater for highly valenced stimuli and stimuli with high arousal value. In addition, a bias to endorse positively valenced stimuli was observed. These results are discussed within an adaptive memory framework that assumes that emotion plays an important role in the allocation of attentional resources.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Memory & Cognition, v. 36, issue 5, p. 933-946