, Volume 32, Issue 7, pp 1149-1159

Memory for thematically arousing events

Abstract

Many studies have indicated that emotional arousalimproves memory for thecenter, or gist, of an event butundermines memory for the event’speriphery. However, all of these studies have elicited emotion by showing participants some salient visual stimulus intended to arouse them (e.g., the sight of a wound). This stimulus may have served as anattention magnet, and this, not the arousal, may have been the cause of the observed narrowing of memory. In this article, we examine how participants remember events that involvethematically induced arousal, arousal produced by empathy, rather than by a visual emotional stimulus. The data show that emotionality improves memory for all aspects of these events, with no memory narrowing.

Experiment 1 was completed as part of the second author’s undergraduate senior thesis; Experiment 2 was completed as part of the first author’s senior thesis.