Memory & Cognition

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 913–919

Can the survival recall advantage be explained by basic memory processes?


    • Department of PsychologyUniversity College London
  • Julie M. Bugg
    • Washington University
  • Henry L. Roediger
    • Washington University

DOI: 10.3758/MC.36.5.913

Cite this article as:
Weinstein, Y., Bugg, J.M. & Roediger, H.L. Memory & Cognition (2008) 36: 913. doi:10.3758/MC.36.5.913


Nairne, Thompson, and Pandeirada (2007) demonstrated a striking phenomenon: Words rated for relevance to a grasslands survival scenario were remembered better than identical words encoded under other deep processing conditions. Having replicated this effect using a novel set of words (Experiment 1), we contrasted the schematic processing and evolutionary accounts of the recall advantage (Experiment 2). Inconsistent with the schematic processing account, the grasslands survival scenario produced better recall than did a city survival scenario requiring comparable schematic processing. Recall in the grasslands scenario was unaffected by a self-reference manipulation. The findings are consistent with an evolutionary account that attributes the recall advantage to adaptive memory biases.

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008