Intentional forgetting of emotional memories in the item-method directed forgetting task
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AbstractForgetting is often viewed as a nuisance, but research has indicated that forgetting is an adaptive process that works to remove irrelevant information (Bjork,1989). Such 'intentional’ forgetting concerns the active removal of information from memory, with evidence coming from the Think/No-Think paradigm (Anderson & Green, 2004) and most importantly the Directed Forgetting paradigm (Bjork, 1970). The Directed Forgetting paradigm assesses intentional forgetting through the use of two cues (Remember and Forget) and a majority of studies suggest a successful inhibition of the 'Forget' items in comparison to the 'Remember' items. However, there is a long-term dispute within research in regard to valence and intentional forgetting. Specifically, it is unclear whether directed forgetting is reduced for emotional stimuli, in comparison to neutral stimuli. In the current thesis, Directed Forgetting was tested in six experiments and consistently reported when retrieval was assessed through free recall. The Directed Forgetting effect also applied to emotional material. However, valence differences for the 'Remember' cue (positive vs negative) were greater than the differences found for the 'Forget' cue. This suggests that both positive and negative words can be successfully forgotten. Additionally, factors such as time (Chapters 2, 3 and 5), individual differences (Chapters 4 [sex differences] and 5 [mood and emotional reactivity]) and stimuli characteristics (Chapters 5 [concreteness] and 7 [word type]) had a minimal impact on Directed Forgetting. The experiments within this thesis have been successful in highlighting DF within free recall. Yet when a cued recall procedure was used, the DF effect was abolished, and there actually seemed to be a form of inverted DF for negative words. Lastly, limitations, theoretical implications and future directions are considered in Chapter 8 (the general discussion).
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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