Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




The survival memory effect tested using a comparison of a survival scenario to the strong negative emotion of a grief scenario. The main hypothesis was that strong, negative emotions allow one’s self to relate to the scenario as it seems to do in the survival scenario. Strong negative emotions may outperform survival in a free recall memory task due to deeper levels of processing. Grief and survival scenarios were compared to a moving scenario that was used as a control condition. The three scenarios were each followed by a list of separate words to be rated on their relevancy to the paired scenario. A distracting math task was given, followed by an unexpected free recall task. The current study found significant higher recall performance of survival recall over the control scenario and the grief scenario. This may be due to an overly strong emotional reaction from the grief scenario which diminished processing as a protective factor. Instead of heightening arousal and awareness as survival is predicted to do, grief may have hindered it.

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