11-15+Levine+++Pizarro+2004 - Social Cognition Vol 22 No 5...

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LEVINE AND PIZARRO EMOTION AND MEMORY RESEARCH EMOTION AND MEMORY RESEARCH: A GRUMPY OVERVIEW Linda J. Levine and David A. Pizarro University of California, Irvine A great deal of research on emotion and memory has focused on the question of whether emotion enhances memory. Based on this research, investigators have variously claimed that emotional memories are indelible; that emotion has no special effects on memory at all; and that emotion leads to enhanced memory for either congruent or central information. In this overview, we re- view the current status of these claims. Although considerable progress has been made toward understanding whether and how emotion enhances mem- ory, much of this research has been limited by its treatment of emotion as merely “arousal.” Evidence is presented that people process, encode, and re- trieve information differently depending upon whether they are feeling happy, fearful, angry, or sad. We argue that a more complete understanding of the ef- fects of emotion on memory will depend upon taking into account the differing motivations and problemsolving strategiesassociatedwith discrete emotions. How do emotions influence memory for autobiographical events? How well do we remembera joyful family gathering, a terrifying near-miss on the freeway, or an angry falling out with a friend? Just as importantly, what aspects of these emotional events do we remember? Much of the scientific research on these questions has focused on evaluating four broad claims: the claim that emotional memories are indelible; the op- posing claim that emotion has no special effects on memory at all; the claim that emotion enhances memory for information similar in tone; and the claim that emotion enhances memory for central information at 530 Social Cognition, Vol. 22, No. 5, 2004, pp. 530-554 An earlier version of this article was presented as an invited plenary address at the Cog- nitive Aging Conference, Atlanta, GA, April, 2002. We are grateful to Martin Conway and Ineke Wessel for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Address correspondence to Linda J. Levine, Department of Psychology and Social Be- havior, University of California, Irvine, 3340 Social Ecology Building II, Irvine, CA 92697-7085; E-mail: [email protected]
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the expense of peripheral details. Over the last couple of decades, re- search on emotion and memory has increased dramatically and consid- erable progress has been made toward evaluating the validity of these claims. This article provides an overview of some recent strides toward understanding whether and how emotion affects memory. Why is this a grumpy overview? Fifteen years ago, Rob Neiss (1988) made a powerful argument against the use of the excessively broad con- struct of “emotional arousal” (also see Feldman & Waller, 1962; Lacey, 1967). Although researchers have long known that discrete emotions are associated with different motivations and problem solving strategies, few studies have assessed the implications of these differences for mem- ory. We will argue that neglecting these differences leaves us with, at
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