The influence of anxiety, age, and retrieval demands on memory

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Date

2021

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science

Abstract

The present dissertation sought to determine if anxiety and hypervigilance can be activated outside the confines of specifically threatening stimuli by examining different situational pressures such as age and retrieval demands. In both experiments, participants studied categorized word lists and were randomly assigned to complete an initial recall test under free, forced, or warning (Exp. 2) recall instructions, followed by a second test under free recall instructions, and a final recognition test. For older adults, forced recall influenced the relationship between trait anxiety and memory such that heightened levels of trait anxiety were associated with greater correct recall and lower false recognition. In contrast, for younger adults, free recall influenced the relationship between memory-specific anxiety, hypervigilance, and memory such that heightened levels of memory-specific anxiety and hypervigilance were associated with lower levels of correct recognition. Further, warning recall influenced the relationship between memory-specific anxiety and memory in young adults, such that heightened levels of memory-specific anxiety were related to greater correct recall at test 1. Across two experiments, results show that it is possible for situational pressures to influence the relationship between anxiety and memory in the absence of specifically threatening stimuli. Additionally, the relationship between anxiety and memory depends on age, the type of anxiety being measured, and the retrieval demands of the task.

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