The good, the bad, and the neutral: The influence of emotional valence on young children’s recall

Author: Van Bergen, Penny; Wall, Jacqui; Salmon, Karen

Description: Despite the important theoretical and applied implications, there is limited experimental research investigating the influence of emotional valence on young children’s verbal recall of everyday emotional experiences. This issue was addressed in the current study. Specifically, we investigated young children’s (5–6 years) recall of emotional experiences presented in six brief stories. To address methodological limitations of the small body of existing literature, we adopted a within participants design in which story content was matched and valence (positive, negative, neutral) was counterbalanced across stories. Fifty-four children were presented the six stories via narrated slideshow, and recall was assessed after delay. Results showed that emotional stories were better recalled than neutral stories and negatively valenced stories were better recalled than positively valenced stories. The recall advantage of negatively valenced information was found for all aspects of each story, suggesting that negative valence renders events particularly memorable.

Subject headings: Children; Memory; Recall; Emotion; Valence

Publication year: 2015

Journal or book title: Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition

Volume: 4

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-35

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Serial number: 3914