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Discuss the role of emotion in psychology

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Introduction

Discuss the role of emotion in psychology Emotion is often the greatest cause for either enhanced recall or impaired recall. Through many studies psychologists have found that it is not only facts we store in our memory but the emotion surrounding them. Flashbulb memories involve an enduring imprint of events surrounding an important incident, the memory is not the event itself but where you were and what you were doing when you heard about it. Sheingold and Tenney (1982) provided evidence to support the concept of flashbulb memories. Participants were asked about personal memories and found most had good memories for when they were told and who told them. They found the flashbulb memories were strong and remained consistent over time; however there is no way of checking the accuracy of these memories. As shown by Sheingold and Tenney, a flashbulb memory's characteristic involves consistency and has an unchanging nature and they also involve a high level of emotional arousal which leads to better recall of the event. ...read more.

Middle

Freud proposed the idea of repression; unwanted memories are pushed down into the unconscious mind so you forget them. Freud described this process as a way of the ego protecting itself from emotional conflict which is often the result of harsh experiences. Williams (1994) interviewed women who has been admitted to hospital on the grounds of sexual assault, 20years previously, (they were told the study was a follow up of medical care). Williams found that 38% of the women did not show any recall of being sexually abused and that 16% of the women that did, said that at one time they couldn't remember they had. This study therefore provides strong evidence to support the repression theory, a traumatic event was repressed and some couldn't recall it even 20 years later. Repressed memories are defined as a traumatic event placed beyond conscious awareness. Because of this placement, these memories can also affect conscious thought. Forgetting a traumatic event, like Williams (1994) research, has also been studied through case studies. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally a depressive state also has an influence on memory. Negative emotions often create a negative recall bias which makes depressed people only focus on negative and unhappy experiences; a mood dependent memory. Lyketsos (2001) found in support of this that depression may lead people to be inattentive and so they don't encode new memories into the long term memory well, therefore recall is much poorer. In further support of this Antikainen et al (2001) studied 174 depressed patients and found they performed better on memory tasks and had fewer memory problems after 6 months treatment. In conclusion emotion plays an important role in memory. It can often lead to enhanced memory, such as flashbulb memories, or impaired memory such as the repression of traumatic experiences. Negative emotion is also responsible for a lack of memory such as when someone is depressed. Overall memories are largely influenced by emotion the more positive we are the more likely we are to recall, the more negative the less likely we will recall and are more likely to forget. ...read more.

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