Negativity Bias In False Memory: Moderation By Neuroticism After A Delay

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Cognition And Emotion


The negativity bias is the tendency for individuals to give greater weight, and often exhibit more rapid and extreme responses, to negative than positive information. Using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott illusory memory paradigm, the current study sought to examine how the negativity bias might affect both correct recognition for negative and positive words and false recognition for associated critical lures, as well as how trait neuroticism might moderate these effects. In two experiments, participants studied lists of words composed of semantic associates of an unpresented word (the critical lure). Half of the lists were comprised of positive words and half were comprised of negative words. As expected, individuals remembered negative list words better than positive list words, consistent with a negativity bias in correct recognition. When tested immediately (Experiment 1), individuals also exhibited greater false memory for negative versus positive critical lures. When tested after a 24-hr delay (Experiment 2), individuals higher in neuroticism maintained greater false memory for negative versus positive critical lures, but those lower in neuroticism showed no difference in false memory between negative and positive critical lures. Possible mechanisms and implications for mental health disorders are discussed.


Negativity bias, DRM, fuzzy trace theory, association-monitoring framework, neuroticism

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