False Recall of Emotional Words: Effects of Valence and Arousal

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Spring 2012


This study examined the effects of emotional valence and arousal on false recall. Participants were presented with associative lists wherein their critical lures varied by valence (whether the lists were linked to negative, neutral, or positive critical lures), arousal (whether a word was calming/soothing or agitating), or both. In Experiment 1, word lists differed in their valence, but arousal was matched. Results demonstrated that positive and negative valence both assisted in the suppression of false recall. In Experiment 2, valence (positive and negative) and arousal (high and low) varied in order to examine the effects of both variables on false recall. False recall differences were found to be related to both arousal and valence of the critical lures in this second experiment. Not only were highly-arousing critical lures recalled less often than lures with low valence, but also positive lures were less susceptible to false recall in comparison to negative lures. As reflected by the output position of critical lures, or where in a list of remembered words a critical lure was recalled, results indicated that critical lures were primarily reconstructed from gist traces independent of their valence or arousal. Results from the present study suggest that false recall may be affected by both arousal and valence.


Benton Pierce

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Psychology