Although the data show that even highly emotional events are prone to memory

Although the data show that even highly emotional

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Although the data show that even highly emotional events are prone to memory distortion, some basic uncertainties remain about the emotion-false memory relation that must be resolved before theory and research can proceed to more subtle questions. Three elementary ones are these. First, does false memory vary in a uniform way as a function of the emotional concomitants of experience; that is, is there a simple directional relation such that distortion consistently increases or decreases as emotion varies? Second, does the manner in which false memory reacts to emo- tional variation depend upon the quality of that variation—in particular, whether its valence is positive or negative or how arousing it is? Third, does the manner in which false memory reacts to emotional variation depend upon where that variation is localized—in particular, whether it is inherent in the content of events or whether it is a feature of the context in which they are experienced? We consider findings on these questions in this review, and as an advance organizer, it will turn out that the answer to the last two questions is yes while the answer to the first is no. Paradoxically, we shall see that whether emotion distorts memory or inoculates memory against distortion depends upon whether it is localized in the content or the context of experience. This content-context paradox is one of the main themes of the present review. Structure of the Review and Method of Literature Search The article begins with a brief overview of method and theory in false memory research—of current accounts of factors that influ- ence false memory, including manipulations and measures that are used to test those accounts. We then review findings from false memory experiments in which emotional content and mood were manipulated, with attention to methodological differences that may explain why a single, clear pattern for emotional influences has not yet emerged. We conclude with a working explanation that an- swers the direction, quality, and location questions and proposes near-term targets for research on emotion and false memory. Our search method began with Web of Science, searching for entries containing the terms “emotion” and “false memory.” We then followed up using “affect,” “mood,” “valence,” or “arousal,” as the first term and “false memory” or “misinformation” as the second. We then performed the same searches with the Google Scholar and PSYCinfo databases. Using the resulting articles, we conducted two snowball searches: First, we consulted the reference lists of the articles and searched for citations of referenced articles in Web of Science, and second, we did likewise with the reference lists of recent unpublished and in press articles. The latter articles were secured by searching conference proceedings and by contact- ing colleagues. Ultimately, we located 46 peer-reviewed articles reporting research that met three inclusion criteria: (a) The depen-
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