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Mem Cognit. 2017 Jul;45(5):691-698. doi: 10.3758/s13421-017-0690-7.

Misremembering emotion: Inductive category effects for complex emotional stimuli.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, Sara Brunet Hall, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA, 23173, USA. jcorbin@richmond.edu.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, Sara Brunet Hall, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA, 23173, USA.

Abstract

Memories of objects are biased toward what is typical of the category to which they belong. Prior research on memory for emotional facial expressions has demonstrated a bias towards an emotional expression prototype (e.g., slightly happy faces are remembered as happier). We investigate an alternate source of bias in memory for emotional expressions - the central tendency bias. The central tendency bias skews reconstruction of a memory trace towards the center of the distribution for a particular attribute. This bias has been attributed to a Bayesian combination of an imprecise memory for a particular object with prior information about its category. Until now, studies examining the central tendency bias have focused on simple stimuli. We extend this work to socially relevant, complex, emotional facial expressions. We morphed facial expressions on a continuum from sad to happy. Different ranges of emotion were used in four experiments in which participants viewed individual expressions and, after a variable delay, reproduced each face by adjusting a morph to match it. Estimates were biased toward the center of the presented stimulus range, and the bias increased at longer memory delays, consistent with the Bayesian prediction that as trace memory loses precision, category knowledge is given more weight. The central tendency effect persisted within and across emotion categories (sad, neutral, and happy). This article expands the scope of work on inductive category effects to memory for complex, emotional stimuli.

KEYWORDS:

Central tendency bias; Emotion; Facial expressions; Memory

PMID:
28138942
DOI:
10.3758/s13421-017-0690-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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