An Effect of Mood-induced Emotions on Forgetting

An effect of mood-induced emotions on forgetting non-retrieved personal autobiographical memories

Demet Ay

Best services for writing your paper according to Trustpilot

Premium Partner
From $18.00 per page
4,8 / 5
Writers Experience
Recommended Service
From $13.90 per page
4,6 / 5
Writers Experience
From $20.00 per page
4,5 / 5
Writers Experience
* All Partners were chosen among 50+ writing services by our Customer Satisfaction Team


Retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) will be investigated with emotional material. Autobiographical memory as a material for presented paradigm gains importance in terms of its emotional component. There are controversial findings about effect of emotional valence on RIF effect between psychological disorder people and control group. While having inhibitory deficit disorder might be related to less RIF effect for negative stimulus, present study also aims to find positivity bias toward emotional component autobiographical memory.

Keywords: Retrieval-induced forgetting, emotion, autobiographical memory

An effect of mood-induced emotions on forgetting non-retrieved personal autobiographical memories

Moods have an influence on several psychological construct like verbal task performance (Gray, 2001), false memories (Storbeck & Clore, 2005). Another crucial thing that mood impact on is what we remember (Blix & Brennen, 2012) and forget (Bauml & Kuhbandner, 2007) from our past.

Not only remembering events from one’s personal life but also the fact that which memories and in what ways are forgotten gain importance in recent years (Barnier, Hung, & Conway, 2004). Forgetting specific events from our past can be either intentionally or unintentionally, as it names suggested directed forgetting and retrieval-induced forgetting, respectively (Barnier et al., 2004).

Retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) is firstly investigated by Anderson, Bjork, and Bjork (1994). They define the problem of forgetting not in terms of capacity or real forgetting problem but accessibility problem because of retrieving some of items more than the others. To test which items not to be retrieved, they use retrieval-induced paradigm in which is composed of three special phase. In the original version of paradigm, they use word and associative cues such as fruit, vegetables, or car brands. Participants are first exposed to word pairs with specific cue and then they are shown half of items from one of the presented cue and then tested to retrieve all items. Consistent finding for different material among several studies show that practicing particular item inhibits sharing cue item therefore it is less likely remembered than unpracticed category (Murayama, Miyatsu, Buchli, & Storm, 2014, for review). RIF effect has been demonstrated for different materials such as lexical cues (Bajo, Gomez-Ariza, Fernandez, & Marful, 2006), pictures (Ford et al., 2004), videos (Miguelez & Garcia-Bajos, 2007) and so forth.

Effect of emotion on retrieval-induced forgetting has two main questions (Bauml, Pastotter, & Hanslmayr, 2010). First is about current emotional state of participants. Retrieval practice of either positive or neutral emotion-induced participants tend to forget more non-practiced and shared cue items than negative mood induced participants (Bauml, Pastotter, & Hanslmayr, 2010; Bauml and Kuhbandner, 2007). Bauml and Kuhbandner (2007) find empirical evidence for negative state effect in which exposing negative mood during retrieval practice results in lacking of inhibition. Therefore, they remember more non-practice material from practiced category.

Neither emotional material nor autobiographical memory gain rather little attendance but Barnier and his colleagues (2004) are firstly attempted to use one’s personal memory as a material for RIF paradigm recently. However, there are controversial findings about an effect of mood on unintentional forgetting resulting from retrieval practice. For example, Barnier and his colleagues (2004) find that participants tend only to forget neutral stimulus, words, rather than emotional positive and negative one when they manipulate participants’ reported autobiographical memory as positive, neutral, and negative. In other words, retrieval-induced forgetting effect occurs only for neutral stimulus. Another consistent finding about remembering or forgetting emotional stimuli and investigating intensity of each stimuli show similar results with above mentioned experiment (Kuhbandner, Bauml, & Stiedl, 2009). However, Harris, Sharman, Barnier, and Moulds (2010) find positivity bias toward emotional material of autobiographical memory with dysphoric patients. Hauer and Wessel (2006) also find consistently positivity bias in which means remembering more positive memory than negative memory with an addition of classic RIF effect in their first experiment.

Since RIF effect is considered as resulting from inhibition (see Storm & Levy, 2012, for review), examining the effect for people who have mood-induced disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD, Amir, Badour, & Freese, 2009) and major depression (Groome & Sterkaj, 2010) is crucial to investigate effect of mood on RIF effect. Amir and his colleagues (2009) implement the paradigm to PTSD group and either non-trauma exposed group or trauma exposed group. They find the difference between both of control groups and PTSD group in a way that PTSD patients cannot have an ability to inhibit irrelevant material so they do not demonstrate RIF effect.

In line with this background, elicited autobiographical memories by participants with regard to each emotion-induced words getting from PANAS (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) will be used as manipulation across participants and it will hypothesized that memories included negativity will be more impacted from RIF effect based on Harris and colleagues (2010) and Wessel and Hauer (2006) findings. Dependent variable of presented study will be the fact that which material will be remembered and which of them will not be retrieved. Further analysis will be made in terms of emotional ingredients of each emotion. Since population attending this experiment does not have any mood-related disorder, lack of inhibition for positivity will be less expected.



Participants will be recruited from Yeditepe University psychology undergraduate students by the flyer. Mean age of them will be most probably in between nineteen and twenty-two. Each participants report their past history about the fact that whether they experience mood-related disorder in any part of their life. No one reports such experience. And none of the participants have taken memory course since then. Informed consent will be taken from them and they will be debriefed about an aim of the experiment at the end.


Modified version of retrieval-induced paradigm which is investigated by Anderson and his colleagues (1994) will be used in this experiment. Modification was made by Barnier and his colleagues (2004) in order to make it applicable to autobiographical memory. In terms of this procedure, participants’ own past memory that is elicited by them will be used as material. They are willing to report memory in terms of emotional words not just like happy or sad but further higher-order emotions like shame and guilty. Since there are extreme controversies about theory of emotion (Ortony & Turner, 1990), affective statements in positive and negative affect scale (PANAS, Watson et al., 1988) in the context of Turkish statements (Gencoz, 2000) will be used as category-cue. Turkish version of scale is consisted of twenty affective statement, ten is closed to positive remaining is closed to negative emotional statements, and each participants will be required to elicit a memory for each emotion-included words. These memories will be used as a material for retrieval-induced paradigm. For control condition, each participant will also elicit two memories in terms of give no valence random word. Since I have enough number of participants, differences between these random words will not be a problem.


Experiment will consist of four distinct phase based on Barnier and his colleagues (2004) experiment in which firstly investigate autobiographical memory in the RIF paradigm. Elicitation phase will involve that memories will be recorded for each participants orally by using audio recorder. Participants will be required to answer five wh- questions specifically. These recording will be transferred into written type by blind people. Rest of the experiment will be conducted a week after from elicitation phase. Deception will take place by saying the fact that an aim of the experiment is to investigate emotional valence of past memories of university students. Learning phase of the experiment will take place individually. Each participant will be shown their own memories elicited a week ago. During retrieval practice phase participants will be half of either exposed to closed-to-positive valence word’s memory or vice versa randomly. Name of each variable will be used as Anderson and his colleagues (1994) used. At the final phase of the classic retrieval-induced paradigm, each participant will be asked to retrieve all memories. At the end, emotional intensity of each category cue and elicited memories will be collected by 5 type likert scale.

Expected results

In the first place, relative emotional intensity among each triggered words will be rated to participants by five likert-type scale by attributing 1 to extremely negative valence and 5 to extremely positive valence after experimental paradigm will be done. Furthermore, relative emotional intensity of each autobiographical memory will also be rated by participants.

Results will be expected in a way that hypothesis is constructed. Series of one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be used to test hypothesis. To begin with, randomly assigned elicited memories in terms of category cue will be manipulated. Each cue will be analyzed within themselves.

Finally, closed-to-positive and closed-to-negative memories (10 for each) will be compared to each other. Positivity bias will also be expected consistent with Hauer and Wessel (2006) finding.


Retrieval-induced forgetting can be said that it has functional importance in terms of different situations such as psychological disorders (Amir et al., 2009). They found lack of inhibition for negative emotional material in PTSD patients. This finding suggests that if neurological basis of RIF can be reliably investigated then PTSD can be figured out by this method. Present study also aims to find specific effect of emotional autobiographical memory on inhibition in which is regarded most probably as reason for RIF (Storm & Levy, 2012).

Investigating an effect of emotion on any construct is one of the hardest but crucial questions. Result of this experiment will give rise to further questions into the field in a way that how each specific emotion-included material affects unintentional forgetting for people.

Neurological basis of the RIF as a phenomenon is recently investigated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI, Kuhl, Dudukovich, Kahn, & Wagner, 2007), and electrophysiological methods (Hellerstedt & Johansson, 2014). According to Johansson and his colleagues (2007), ERP studies should shed light first possible correlates of ERP with regard to RIF, and inhibitory mechanisms with regard to individual differences on RIF scores. Further studies about neurological basis of RIF should be accounted for possible specific location activation during retrieval practice in terms of emotional content of the material. I expect special amygdala activation during retrieval practice when negative-correlated stimulus is presented.

Reference List

Amir, N., Badour, C. L., & Freese, B. (2009). The effect of retrieval on recall of information in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder.Journal of anxiety disorders,23(4), 535-540.

Anderson, M. C., Bjork, R. A., & Bjork, E. L. (1994). Remembering can cause forgetting: retrieval dynamics in long-term memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition,20(5), 1063.

Bajo, M. T., Gomez-Ariza, C. J., Fernandez, A., & Marful, A. (2006). Retrieval-induced forgetting in perceptually driven memory tests. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(5), 1185.

Barnier, A., Hung, L., & Conway, M. (2004). Retrievalaˆ?induced forgetting of emotional and unemotional autobiographical memories.Cognition and Emotion,18(4), 457-477.

Bauml, K. H., & Kuhbandner, C. (2007). Remembering can cause forgetting—but not in negative moods.Psychological Science,18(2), 111-115.

Bauml, K. H., Pastotter, B., & Hanslmayr, S. (2010). Binding and inhibition in episodic memory—Cognitive, emotional, and neural processes. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 34(7), 1047-1054.

Blix, I., & Brennen, T. (2012). Retrieval-induced forgetting after trauma: A study with victims of sexual assault.Cognition & emotion,26(2), 321-331.

Ford, R. M., Keating, S., & Patel, R. (2004). Retrievalaˆ?induced forgetting: A developmental study. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22(4), 585-603.

Gencoz, T. (2000). Positive and Negative Affect Schedule: A study of validity and reliability. Turk Psikoloji Dergisi.

Gray, J. R. (2001). Emotional modulation of cognitive control: Approach–withdrawal states double-dissociate spatial from verbal two-back task performance.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,130(3), 436.

Harris, C. B., Sharman, S. J., Barnier, A. J., & Moulds, M. L. (2010). Mood and retrievalaˆ?induced forgetting of positive and negative autobiographical memories.Applied Cognitive Psychology,24(3), 399-413.

Hauer, B. J., & Wessel, I. (2006). Retrievalaˆ?induced forgetting of autobiographical memory details.Cognition & Emotion,20(3-4), 430-447.

Hellerstedt, R., & Johansson, M. (2014). Electrophysiological correlates of competitor activation predict retrieval-induced forgetting.Cerebral Cortex,24(6), 1619-1629.

Kuhbandner, C., Bauml, K. H., & Stiedl, F. C. (2009). Retrieval-induced forgetting of negative stimuli: The role of emotional intensity.Cognition and Emotion,23(4), 817-830.

Kuhl, B. A., Dudukovic, N. M., Kahn, I., & Wagner, A. D. (2007). Decreased demands on cognitive control reveal the neural processing benefits of forgetting.Nature neuroscience,10(7), 908-914.

Murayama, K., Miyatsu, T., Buchli, D., & Storm, B. C. (2014). Forgetting as a consequence of retrieval: A meta-analytic review of retrieval-induced forgetting. Psychological bulletin,140(5), 1383.

Ortony, A., & Turner, T. J. (1990). What’s basic about basic emotions?. Psychological review,97(3), 315.

Storbeck, J., & Clore, G. L. (2005). With Sadness Comes Accuracy; With Happiness, False Memory Mood and the False Memory Effect.Psychological Science,16(10), 785-791.

Storm, B. C., & Levy, B. J. (2012). A progress report on the inhibitory account of retrieval-induced forgetting.Memory & cognition,40(6), 827-843.

Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales.Journal of personality and social psychology,54(6), 1063.

You Might Also Like

I'm Alejandro!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out