5 thoughts on “Social Sciences — UDP3

  1. Leanne Brown

    Response to Dr. Kain’s questions

    Q1: The 120 words for the pilot study were chosen from the online MRC Psycholinguistic Database (http://www.psy.uwa.edu.au/mrcdatabase/mrc2.html) (Coltheart, 1981; Wilson, 1988) and were matched for imagery, familiarity, concreteness, and length. Those 120 words were then presented to the student participants in the pilot study and they rated each word for pleasantness and for survival-relatedness. “Glitter” received a high rating as a pleasant word and “dimple” received a low rating as a survival-related word. Participants used a 5-point Likert scale to rate each word and there was no inquiry with regard to why or how they chose a specific rating.

    Q2: I have listed below the references used in my literature review. The last five research articles specifically address the hypothesis that survival-related words may be more memorable than words unrelated to survival.


    Atkinson, R.C., & Shiffren, R.M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K.W. Spence and J.T. Spence (Eds.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. II, pp. 89-195). New York: Academic Press.

    Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning &Verbal Behavior, 11, 671-684.

    Kang, S. H. K., McDermott, K. B., & Cohen, S. M. (2008). The mnemonic advantage of processing fitness-relevant information. Memory & Cognition, 36 (6), 1151-1156.

    Nairne, J. S., & Pandeirada, J. N. S. (2008). Adaptive memory: Remembering with a stone-age brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 239–243.

    Nairne, J. S., Pandeirada, J. N. S., & Thompson, S. R. (2008). Adaptive memory: The comparative value of survival processing. Psychological Science, 19, 176–180.

    Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. S. (2007). Adaptive memory: Survival processing enhances retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 33, 263-273.

    Weinstein, Y., Bugg, J. M., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). Can the survival recall advantage be explained by the basic memory processes? Memory & Cognition, 36, 913–919.

  2. kaind

    I have a few questions that ask for elaborations on some of Dr. St. Amant’s I think.

    Q1. I don’t need the whole list of words, but I wondered about some of the examples above. How is “glitter” or “dimple” related to survival for example? I know you chose words to test from the pilot, but how were the words for the pilot chosen?

    Q2. A related question–is there any literature about survival words or the type of expectations that you have for the use of such words?

  3. Leanne Brown

    Question Responses

    Prior to beginning my research study, I conducted a pilot study. 729 ECU students enrolled in a Psychology 1000 course were presented with a list of 120 words that were matched for imagery, familiarity, concreteness, and length. Using a within-subjects design, participants were asked to rate the words for pleasantness and survival-relatedness using a five-point Likert scale (1=very unpleasant or very unrelated, 5=very pleasant or very related). I chose the 45 words to be used in the research study based on three levels (high-H, medium-M, low-L) of average survival-relatedness and pleasantness ratings from the pilot study. Those ratings are shown in Table 1.

    1. Examples of each of the three levels of survival –related words, based on results from the pilot study, include: H- dagger, ground, oatmeal; M- ditch, kettle, embrace; L- dungeon, flute, dimple.

    2. Examples of each of the three levels of pleasant words, based on results from the pilot study, include: H-daylight, glitter, nursery; M- anchor, organ, oyster; L- beggar, hedge, kerosene.

    3. Twenty-nine ECU undergraduates (20 female, 9 male) ranging from 18-23 years of age (M=18.75, SD=1.09) participated in exchange for credit in their Psychology 1000 course. Students volunteer to participate in research through their registration on SONA/Experimentrak and are self-recruited when they sign up for a particular research project appointment.

    4. I have word lists for the pilot study and the research study. There were 120 words in the pilot study and 45 of those words were used in the research study. I’ll be happy to provide you with the word lists if you would like to review them. I don’t know how I would attach them in WordPress.

    5. Research shows that human memory is influenced by levels-of-processing effects, especially when fitness-relevant judgments are made. The hypothesis that survival-related words should be more memorable than words unrelated to survival is based on prior research which suggests that natural selection in human evolution has provided us with a special set of survival-mode mental processes that have a powerful influence on memory when engaged. The results of my study indicate that while word type does appear to affect recall memory, pleasant words and the interaction of pleasant and survival-related words provide a more significant main effect than that of survival –related words alone. There may also be an effect on memory with regard to the emotionality and/or personal relevance of the to-be-remembered words.

    These findings could be applied to educational contexts by teaching and demonstrating to students the use of various types of elaborative memory encoding procedures. Encouraging students to make their study material personally relative through the use of schema categorization should allow for deeper processing and subsequently better recall of the to-be-remembered information.

  4. stamantk

    Question 1: Can you provide and example or examples of “survival-related words” to help individuals who are unfamiliar with this concept better conceptualize this idea?

    Question 2: How are you defining “pleasant words” or “pleasantness” for the purposes of this study?

    Question 3: How did you select/identify subjects for your sample/research? How did you approach/contact these subjects to ask them to participate in this study?

    Question 4: Can you provide a list of the actual words you used for this research? How many words were used/tested overall in this study?

    Question 5: How might we apply your findings to educational/teaching contexts in order to improve teaching practices and thus improve the learning experience for students?

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