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The moderating effects of stimulus valence and arousal on memory suppression

Marx BP, Marshall PJ, Castro F. The moderating effects of stimulus valence and arousal on memory suppression. Emotion (Washington, D.C.). 2008 Apr 1; 8(2):199-207.

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This study examined the separate and combined effects of stimulus valence and arousal on retrieval inhibition. Participants performed Anderson and Green's (2001) memory suppression task with stimuli varying across dimensions of valence and arousal. Memory was tested through free and cued recall as well as speeded recognition. Results showed that both stimulus valence and arousal influenced the extent to which participants successfully inhibited retrieval, but not in the ways anticipated. Specifically, the strongest inhibition effects were for highly arousing, pleasant words. In addition, unpleasant stimuli that were suppressed were better recalled during both cued and free-recall tasks than pleasant stimuli that were suppressed. Across all tests of memory performance, there were no significant differences between the experimental conditions for highly arousing, unpleasant words. The implications of these findings are discussed. (Copyright) 2008 APA.

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