Goal conduciveness as a key determinant of memory facilitation

Emotion. 2013 Aug;13(4):622-8. doi: 10.1037/a0033066.


The affective dimensions responsible for the modulation of memory by emotion are subject to debate. Several hypotheses have been suggested: The arousal hypothesis of memory facilitation suggests the arousal dimension as the key determinant in whether emotional events are more likely to be remembered than neutral events. The valence hypothesis suggests preferential status for unpleasant, as compared with pleasant, stimuli in memory. The authors tested an alternative hypothesis derived from the appraisal theory of emotion, namely, that events that are relevant to the current concerns of the individual benefit from a memory advantage. In the present study, the authors demonstrate that initially neutral but goal conducive items (for game-related gain) remain stable in memory over time, whereas memory for goal irrelevant and goal obstructive items decline over time. They furthermore found that the affective evaluation of initially neutral items changed as a function of the goal relevance manipulation and that this change was stable over time. Taken together, findings support the relevance hypothesis of memory facilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult