Positive emotions enhance recall of peripheral details

Journal Article

Emotional arousal and negative affect enhance recall of central aspects of an event. However, the role of discrete emotions in selective memory processing is understudied. Undergraduates were asked to recall and rate autobiographical memories of eight emotional events. Details of each memory were rated as central or peripheral to the event. Significance of the event, vividness, reliving and other aspects of remembering were also rated for each memory. Positive affect enhanced recall of peripheral details. Furthermore, the impairment of peripheral recall was greatest in memories of anger, not of fear. Reliving the experience at retrieval was negatively correlated with recall of peripheral details for some emotions (e.g., anger) but not others (e.g., fear), irrespective of similarities in affect and intensity. Within individuals, recall of peripheral details was correlated with less belief in the memory's accuracy and more likelihood to recall the memory from one's own eyes (i.e., a field perspective).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Berntsen, D; Rubin, DC; Talarico, JM

Published Date

  • March 2, 2009

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/02699930801993999