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Reduced associative memory for negative information: impact of confidence and interactive imagery during study

Caplan, Jeremy B.; Sommer, Tobias; Madan, Christopher R.; Fujiwara, Esther


Jeremy B. Caplan

Tobias Sommer

Esther Fujiwara


Although item-memory for emotional information is enhanced, memory for associations between items is often impaired for negative, emotionally arousing compared to neutral information. We tested two possible mechanisms underlying this impairment, using picture pairs: 1) higher confidence in one’s own ability to memorise negative information may cause participants to under-study negative pairs; 2) better interactive imagery for neutral pairs could facilitate associative memory for neutral pairs more than for negative pairs. Tested with associative recognition, we replicated the impairment of associative memory for negative pairs. We also replicated the result that confidence in future memory (judgments of learning) was higher for negative than neutral pairs. Inflated confidence could not explain the impairment of associative recognition memory: Judgements of learning were positively correlated with associative memory success for both negative and neutral pairs. However, neutral pairs were rated higher in their conduciveness to interactive imagery than negative pairs, and this difference in interactive imagery showed a robust relationship to the associative memory difference. Thus, associative memory reductions for negative information are not due to differences in encoding effort. Instead, interactive imagery may be less effective for encoding of negative than neutral pairs.


Caplan, J. B., Sommer, T., Madan, C. R., & Fujiwara, E. (2019). Reduced associative memory for negative information: impact of confidence and interactive imagery during study. Cognition and Emotion, 33(8), 1745-1753.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 20, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 16, 2019
Publication Date Apr 16, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2020
Journal Cognition and Emotion
Print ISSN 0269-9931
Electronic ISSN 1464-0600
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 8
Pages 1745-1753
Keywords Memory, emotion, paired associate learning, imagery, metacognition
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Cognition and Emotion on 16/04/2019, available online:


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