Viewing Instructions Impact Emotional Memory Differently in Older and Younger Adults

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lisa Emery Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/

Abstract: The current study examines how the instructions given during picture viewing impact age differences in incidental emotional memory. Previous research has suggested that older adults' memory may be better when they make emotional rather than perceptual evaluations of stimuli and that their memory may show a positivity bias in tasks with open-ended viewing instructions. Across two experiments, participants viewing photographs either received open-ended instructions or were asked to make emotionally focused (Experiment 1) or perceptually focused (Experiment 2) evaluations. Emotional evaluations had no impact on older adults' memory, whereas perceptual evaluations reduced older adults' recall of emotional, but not of neutral, pictures. Evidence for the positivity effect was sporadic and was not easier to detect with open-ended viewing instructions. These results suggest that older adults' memory is best when the material to be remembered is emotionally evocative and they are allowed to process it as such.

Additional Information

Publication
Emery, L., & Hess, T.M. (2008). Viewing instructions impact emotional memory differently in older and younger adults. Psychology and Aging, 23(1), 2-12. (Mar 2008) Published by the American Psychological Association (ISSN: 1939-1498). Doi:10.1037/0882-7974.23.1.2
Language: English
Date: 2008