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Animacy and Mortality Salience: New Directions for the Adaptive Memory Literature

  • Jeanette AltarribaEmail author
  • Stephanie A. Kazanas
Chapter
Part of the Evolutionary Psychology book series (EVOLPSYCH)

Abstract

The past decade has produced great strides in understanding the functional aspects of human cognition. One prolific area of research asserts that memory is optimized when information is processed for its fitness, or “survival relevance” (see, e.g., Nairne et al., J Exp Psychol 33:263–273, 2007). Early work conducted in this area used a simple recall paradigm, with participants first reading a set of instructions that vary among survival relevance rating, moving relevance rating, and so on. Dozens of independent researchers and laboratories have confirmed an adaptive or survival memory advantage: a memory benefit for words processed for their survival relevance, relative to other encoding instructions (see, e.g., Kazanas and Altarriba, Evol Psychol 13:360–396, 2015, for a review). The current chapter outlines the theoretical explanations for this survival memory advantage including work involving animacy effects and mortality salience, with an eye toward identifying the mechanisms that underlie these findings.

Keywords

Animacy Mortality salience Survival memory Adaptive memory Cognitive psychology 

Notes

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to thank Christen A. Carter for her assistance in preparing this work.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Tennessee Technological UniversityCookevilleUSA

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