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Emotion. 2011 Feb;11(1):139-44. doi: 10.1037/a0021287.

Effects of emotion on associative recognition: valence and retention interval matter.

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Department of Psychology and Special Education, Texas A&M University-Commerce, TX, USA.


In two experiments, we examined the effects of emotional valence and arousal on associative binding. Participants studied negative, positive, and neutral word pairs, followed by an associative recognition test. In Experiment 1, with a short-delayed test, accuracy for intact pairs was equivalent across valences, whereas accuracy for rearranged pairs was lower for negative than for positive and neutral pairs. In Experiment 2, we tested participants after a one-week delay and found that accuracy was greater for intact negative than for intact neutral pairs, whereas rearranged pair accuracy was equivalent across valences. These results suggest that, although negative emotional valence impairs associative binding after a short delay, it may improve binding after a longer delay. The results also suggest that valence, as well as arousal, needs to be considered when examining the effects of emotion on associative memory.

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