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The Breadth of Animacy in Memory: New Evidence from Prospective Memory

Félix, S. B., Poirier, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1169-6424, Nairne, J. S. & Pandeirada, J. N. S. (2023). The Breadth of Animacy in Memory: New Evidence from Prospective Memory. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 31(3), pp. 1323-1334. doi: 10.3758/s13423-023-02406-y


Studies using retrospective memory tasks have revealed that animates/living beings are better remembered than inanimates/non-living things (the animacy effect). However, considering that memory is foremost future-oriented, we hypothesized that the animacy effect would also occur in prospective memory (i.e., memory for future intentions). Using standard prospective memory (PM) procedures, we explored this hypothesis by manipulating the animacy status of the PM targets. Study 1a reports data collected from an American sample; these results were then replicated with a Portuguese sample (Study 1b). Study 2 employed a new procedure, and data were collected from a broader English-speaking sample. In these three studies, animate (vs. inanimate) targets consistently led to a better PM performance revealing, for the first time, that the animacy advantage extends to PM. These results strengthen the adaptive approach to memory and stress the need to consider animacy as an important variable in memory studies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Animacy effect; Adaptive memory; Prospective memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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