College students generated autobiographical memories from distinct emotional categories that varied in valence (positive vs. negative) and intensity (high vs. low). They then rated various perceptual, cognitive, and emotional properties for each memory. The distribution of these emotional memories favored a vector model over a circumplex model. For memories of all specific emotions, intensity accounted for significantly more variance in autobiographical memory characteristics than did valence or age of the memory. In two additional experiments, we examined multiple memories of emotions of high intensity and positive or negative valence and of positive valence and high or low intensity. Intensity was a more consistent predictor of autobiographical memory properties than was valence or the age of the memory in these experiments as well. The general effects of emotion on autobiographical memory properties are due primarily to intensity differences in emotional experience, not to benefits or detriments associated with a specific valence.
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Portions of this research were presented at the 15th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Society (2003). The article was written in part when D.C.R. was a visiting professor at the Psychology Department, University of Aarhus. This work was supported by a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (to J.M.T.), National Institutes of Health Grant RO1 DA14094 (to K.S.L.), and a NARSAD Young Investigator Award (to K.S.L.).
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Talarico, J.M., LaBar, K.S. & Rubin, D.C. Emotional intensity predicts autobiographical memory experience. Memory & Cognition 32, 1118–1132 (2004). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196886
- Autobiographical Memory
- Vector Model
- Emotional Intensity
- Memory Property
- Emotional Memory