Induced Negative Mood and the Positivity Effect
Worden, Kendell Marie
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Older adults sometimes demonstrate a bias in memory for positive over negative stimuli, referred to as a positivity bias. In contrast, young adults demonstrate the opposite bias and remember more negative than positive stimuli. This resultant combination of biases results in a phenomenon called the positivity effect, which is, in short, manifested by a negative correlation between age and the proportion of negative stimuli remembered There is also a mood congruence effect on memory, such that individuals who are exposed to positive, negative, and neutral material while in a particular mood will later remember better the material that was congruent with their mood at the time of learning. The present study sought to determine whether inducing a negative mood in participants prior to engaging them in a recognition memory task would in any way modify the memory biases previously discussed. For young adults, the negativity bias was not demonstrated. Similarly, for older adults, the positivity bias was not demonstrated. Instead, for both groups, the data suggest an anti-positivity bias, with roughly equivalent memory performance for negative and neutral items and relatively worse memory for positive items. Furthermore, the data suggest that, although the negative mood induction procedure had a significant effect on self-reported affective state, there is no evidence of mood congruent memory.