Emotion And Memory

Mood-state-dependent memory

Ucros (1989) reviewed 40 published studies of mood-state-dependent memory. The evidence revealed a moderate tendency for people to remember material better when there is a match between the mood at learning and at retrieval. However, the effects are generally stronger when participants are in a positive mood rather than a negative one. They are also greater when people try to remember personal events than when the learning material lacks personal relevance. Possible explanations for these effects are discussed later.

Kenealy (1997) noted various problems with research on mood-state-dependent memory. First, the level of learning was not established in most studies. As a result, it is not clear whether poor performance reflects deficient memory or deficient learning. Second, there was no check in some studies that the mood manipulations had been successful. Third, only one memory test was used in most studies. However, the extent of any mood-state-dependent effects on memory may depend on the nature of the memory test. For example, Kihlstrom (1991) suggested that the effects of mood state will be weaker when rich and informative cues are provided within the retrieval environment.

Kenealy (1997) addressed all these issues in a series of experiments producing strong evidence for mood-state-dependent memory. In one study, the participants looked at a map and learned a set of instructions concerning a particular route until their learning performance exceeded 80%. The following day they were

Free and cued recall as a function of mood state (happy or sad) at learning and at recall. Based on data in Kenealy (1997).

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