Memory & Cognition

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Source-constrained retrieval and survival processing

  • James S. Nairne
  • Josefa N. S. Pandeirada
  • Joshua E. VanArsdall
  • Janell R. Blunt


Three experiments investigated the mnemonic effects of source-constrained retrieval in the survival-processing paradigm. Participants were asked to make survival-based or control decisions (pleasantness or moving judgments) about items prior to a source identification test. The source test was followed by a surprise free recall test for all items processed during the experiment, including the new items (foils) presented during the source test. For the source test itself, when asked about the content of prior processing—did you make a survival or a pleasantness decision about this item?—no differences were found between the survival and control conditions. The final free recall data revealed a different pattern: When participants were asked to decide whether an item had been processed previously for survival, that item was subsequently recalled better than when the source query asked about pleasantness or relevance to a moving scenario. This mnemonic boost occurred across-the-board—for items processed during the initial rating phase and for the new items. These data extend the generality of source-constrained retrieval effects and have implications for understanding the proximate mechanisms that underlie the oft-replicated survival-processing advantage in recall and recognition.


Evolution Memory Source-constrained retrieval Recall 



This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0843165). Josefa N. S. Pandeirada was, in part, supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology Fellowships SFRH/BPD/21534/2005 and SFRH/BPD/81438/2011.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Nairne
    • 1
  • Josefa N. S. Pandeirada
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joshua E. VanArsdall
    • 1
  • Janell R. Blunt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.University of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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