Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Cognitive Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 31 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jeanette Altarriba

Committee Members

Gordon G Gallup


adaptive memory, boundary condition, implicit memory, perceptual identification task, survival processing effect, Memory consolidation, Explicit memory, Implicit memory

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Evolution


Robust support has been found for a survival processing effect on memory when information is encoded for its fitness-relevance (Nairne, Thompson, & Pandeirada, 2007). However, support for this effect has been limited to forms of memory that require intentional, explicit retrieval processes. Thus far, the literature has failed to identify the effect in implicit, automatic memory using conceptual and perceptual production tasks (McBride, Thomas, & Zimmerman, 2013; Tse & Altarriba, 2010). In the current study, an alternative implicit memory test that employs different memory processes was employed in a further attempt to examine the survival processing effect in implicit memory. Participants rated a list of unrelated nouns according to their relevance to either a grassland survival or home moving scenario in a within-subjects (Experiment 1a) or a between-subjects (Experiment 1b) design. A perceptual identification task was then completed in which accuracy and response times were recorded for the identification of occluded words previously rated in the survival context, moving context, or novel words. Overall, there was no response difference between participants in the implicit or explicit conditions, nor between the survival and moving conditions. While the survival processing effect was not found in the current study, a superiority effect for processing previously rated words, as compared to novel words, was found. Implications of these results for the survival processing advantage are discussed.