Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 132–147 | Cite as

Decomposing item-method directed forgetting of emotional pictures: Equivalent costs and no benefits

  • Tracy L. Taylor
  • Chelsea K. Quinlan
  • Kelly C. H. Vullings


Using an item-method directed forgetting task, we presented negative, neutral, and positive photographic pictures, one at a time, each followed by an instruction to remember or forget. We determined that the directed forgetting effect, defined as better subsequent recognition of to-be-remembered (TBR) items than to-be-forgotten (TBF) items, was equivalent across negative, neutral, and positive pictures. To disentangle the underlying costs (i.e., decrease in memory for TBF items) and benefits (i.e., increase in memory for TBR items), we compared recognition memory performance in the directed forgetting task to that of a novel within-subjects remember-all control condition (Experiment 1) and to a between-subjects remember-all control group (Experiment 2). We observed costs without benefits across all three emotions—negative, neutral, and positive—in both experiments. These results demonstrate that equivalent directed forgetting effects for emotional stimuli are not attributable to different underlying component processes. Instead, our results suggest that selection for encoding is accomplished in similar ways, regardless of emotional content.


Item-method directed forgetting Intentional forgetting Costs and benefits Pictures Emotion 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy L. Taylor
    • 1
  • Chelsea K. Quinlan
    • 1
  • Kelly C. H. Vullings
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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