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The role of emotional factors in memory

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The role of emotional factors in memory Emotional factors can make things easier to remember and they can also make remembering more difficult. A lot of research has been carried out about the role of emotion in memory and recall. One role of emotional factors in memory is helping us try to forget something. This is called repression. Freud believed that there was three parts of personality; id (the drives) ego (defence) and superego (conscience). Freud described repression as motivated forgetting, where bad memories are pushed into the unconscious in order to defend the ego from anxiety. For example, if someone had a bad memory that they just wanted to forget, they would be able to push this memory into the back of their minds. In 1964, Williams conducted an experiment in which he interviewed 129 women who had all suffered some form of sexual abuse before the age of 12. His findings were that 38% had no memory of the abuse happening at all, and a further 16% said they had huge chunks of their childhood life missing. ...read more.


In the 1970s, Tulving conducted an experiment on places of learning and testing. In his study, there were four groups of divers; group one learnt what to do on land, then were tested on it. Group two learnt it on land, but were tested underwater, group three learnt underwater and were tested on land, and finally group four learnt underwater and were tested underwater. Tulving found that the divers in groups one and four did better in the tests than two and three. This indicates that you can recall things better if you're tested in the same place as you learnt them. He called this the encoding specificity principle. This could be to do with association and familiarity - that you emotionally feel more comfortable if you are tested in the same place. Abethney also researched into places of learning and testing. He was a university lecturer, and throughout the year, he gave his students regular tests. He split the students into two groups - the first group were always tested in the same room, with the same tutor, whereas the other group were tested in different rooms, with different tutors. Group one consistently did better throughout the year. ...read more.


Talarico researched into flashbulb memories. He asked participants on the 12th September 2001 what they remember from the day before, 11th September 2001 (the date of the terrorist attacks). The participants were then all asked two sets of questions a certain amount of time later (from one week up to 32 weeks after the event). The questions in set one were about how the participant heard about the attacks and where they were / what they were doing, and the second set of questions were about what they were doing in the days prior to the attacks. Talarico found that the everyday events were remembered better than 9/11, for which the memories were less accurate and less consistent. This means that despite the vividness of flashbulb memories, flashbulb memories are no more likely to be remembered than ordinary memories. A criticism for this experiment is that all the participants were students and lived where the attacks took place - older people might have recalled the attacks better, and the participants might be too upset and worried about 9/11 to recall accurately. In conclusion, emotional factors can have an effect on memory; either for helping people remember things (such as mood-state dependant memory and flashbulb memories) or helping people forget (repression). ...read more.

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