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Crime-Related Scenarios Do not Lead to Superior Memory Performance in the Survival Processing Paradigm

Mangiulli, I., Hover, N., Howe, M. L. ORCID: 0000-0002-5747-5571 & Otgaar, H. (2021). Crime-Related Scenarios Do not Lead to Superior Memory Performance in the Survival Processing Paradigm. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 34(3), pp. 387-399. doi: 10.1080/20445911.2021.2010737


The survival processing advantage refers to the finding that processing information according to its survival value improves memory retention. We used mass-testing across three experiments to examine whether the survival processing advantage could be extended to crime-related contexts when adopting both offender’s (Experiment 1 and 2) and victim’s (Experiment 3) perspectives. Interestingly, crime-related scenarios produced the lowest memory retention in Experiments 2 and 3, indicating no mnemonic benefit resulting from crimerelated processing. Furthermore, in Experiments 1 and 2, we failed to replicate the standard survival processing effect, while in Experiment 3 the superior survival memory retention emerged in comparison with the standard control conditions (i.e., moving and pleasantness). Overall, our experiments showed that crime-related contexts did not lead to superior memory retention. Moreover, although we detected some failures to replicate the survival processing effect, this evidence is not sufficiently compelling to argue that there was a general absence of the survival processing advantage.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: Adaptive Memory; Survival Processing Advantage; Crime-Related Scenario
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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