It has been well known that everyday memory happens in emotional situation. However, most experiments on memory have not taken the emotional factors into account. Furthermore, we make many false memories in everyday life. We erroneously think that som ...
It has been well known that everyday memory happens in emotional situation. However, most experiments on memory have not taken the emotional factors into account. Furthermore, we make many false memories in everyday life. We erroneously think that some interesting events that had not happened at all had occurred. In the present study, I attempted to figure out which factor of emotions, emotional valence or arousal, is more important in making false memories.
If the emotional valence, i.e.,positive emotion vs negative emotion, is more important than the arousal, we expect more false memories under positive emotional states than under negative emotional states, because we process information in an leisurely way when we are in positive emotional states, whereas we process information in an analytic way under negative emotional states. On the other hand, we expect more false memories under weak emotional states, e.g., serene or lonely, if arousal is important for false memories.
We conducted Experiments 1 through 4 to figure out which factor, valence or arousal, is important for false memories. We changed the presentation duration of the words to remember in the four experiment, because relational encoding, which seems to be crucial for false memories, is more likely when we study words for a long time. More false memories were reported under negative emotional states when the study time is 2 seconds for each word in Experiment 1. However, more false memories were observed under positive states when the duration is merely 250 msec in Experiment 4. The results strongly suggest that the relation between emotion and false memory is very complicated, depending on the conditions of encoding, including the study duration. In addition, memory was tested immediately after we study words or 1 day later in Experiment 1. The rate of false memory did not change only in the positive-low arousal state, where the relational encoding is exclusively expected.
We tried to induce relational encoding by manipulating the fonts of the words in the list in Experiment 5 through 7. When the study duration is long (Experiment 5), more false memories were reported under negative emotional states in the common font condition. however, more false memories were observed under positive states in the different font condition, where each word is written in different fonts. The complex pattern get weaker as the study duration gets shorter in Experiments 6 and 7. The results of Experiments 5 through 7 suggested that the cognitive load during the encoding seems to work as modulating factors in the relation between emotion and false memory.
The possible involvement of monitoring processes in making false memories was tested in Experiment 8. When we do relational encoding, we expect large difference between a condition where we use a very strict criterion in judging items and a condition where we use a lenient criterion. Because more monitoring is expected when we do relational encoding than when we do item specific encoding. The difference between the retrieval conditions was large in the positive states than the negative states. The results of Experiment 8 corroborated the involvement of monitoring processes in false memory, especially under the positive emotional states.
The results of 8 experiments showed that the total cognitive load in encoding is the determining factor of making false memories. In other words, the importance of valence or arousal in making false memories is very complicated. The results can be applied in making guidelines for education or treatment of emotionally vulnerable groups.