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Investigating the Longevity of Survival Based Processing in Relation to True and False Memories

Zlabyte, Vydune (2017) Investigating the Longevity of Survival Based Processing in Relation to True and False Memories. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)


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Previous research has demonstrated that survival processing enhances memory for target words, more so than other well known deep processing conditions. Survival processing has also been reported to increase false memories, yet, this was only examined using short retention delay conditions. The present study aimed to examine the longevity of survival processing in terms of true and false memory. A sample of 60 participants was recruited using an opportunity and snowball sampling method. The encoding task involved the processing of categorised nouns (category repetition procedure), by rating their relevance to either a survival or moving scenario, or by rating their pleasantness. After a delay of either five minutes or twenty-four hours, a surprise recognition test of the encoded words was given. The number of ‘yes’ responses to studied items (true memory), associated critical items and nonassociated items (false memory) were measured. Contrary to the hypothesis, the results revealed that survival processing, after a twenty-four-hour delay, led to a reduction in true memory. Potential reasons for this unexpected result are discussed with an emphasis on the use of the category repetition procedure. The twenty-four-hour delay also lead to an increase in false memory. This calls for additional research on survival based false memories after an extended delay between encoding and retrieval, in order to conclude whether false memory functions as an adaptive memory strategy.

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