Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



It has been argued that emotional memories are harder to update than neutral memories (Novak & Mather, 2009; Sakaki, Niki, & Mather, 2012) and that the cause is that emotional memories are subject to greater levels of proactive interference. This explanation was questioned in this paper and another explanation – the recursive reminding hypothesis (Hintzman, 2004) was considered. This hypothesis was used to explain the previous findings by suggesting that the remindings embedded in emotional memory representations are stronger than neutral remindings (as supported by a preliminary experiment) and therefore attract attention internally during re-presentation, resulting in less attention toward the external stimulus and thus poorer encoding of it. The hypothesis served as the motivation for two experiments using the memory updating task. In each, the critical conditions involved manipulations designed to reduce the amount of attention directed externally during re-presentation. The noticing manipulation in Exp. 1 did not have an effect on memory performance, however the measure did show that people are equal in noticing emotional and neutral discrepancies. Highlighting a location change (Warning condition) in Exp. 2 also did not have an effect on memory performance, however providing feedback (Feedback condition) did. Specifically, providing corrective feedback during re-study reduced the repetition of emotional errors and promoted better veracity assessments of emotional location memories. The results of both experiments indicated that previous updating findings are not as robust as previously thought. The results also indicate that differences in meta-cognitive processes between emotional and neutral information are important in understanding how repetition affects memory representations.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lane, Sean



Included in

Psychology Commons