Remembering positive or relevant information? Cultural relevance may moderate the age-related positivity effect in memory
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AbstractThe age-related positivity effect might be driven by age differences in seeking emotional positivity or the meaning attached to positive information. To examine these two hypotheses, we recruited young and older Mainland Chinese adults to complete a recognition memory task, in which they viewed and recognized a series of pictures varying in emotional valence (neutral, positive, or negative) and cultural relevance (relevant to Chinese or Western culture). Participants were instructed to just view the pictures (Experiment 1), to focus on the emotional valence of the pictures (Experiment 2a), to focus on the cultural relevance of the pictures (Experiment 2b), or to focus on both (Experiment 2c). Since cultural relevance could alter the meaning of a picture without affecting its emotional valence, the age-related positivity effect should not be moderated by cultural relevance if the effect is driven by age differences in seeking emotional positivity. In contrast, such a moderation effect should be detected if the age-related positivity effect is driven by age differences in seeking meaning. The results of Experiment 2b supported the latter speculation by finding an age-related positivity effect for Chinese pictures but not for Western pictures, although the other three experiments found an age-related positivity effect that was not moderated by cultural relevance. These results show that the motivation to seek meaning plays a role in the age-related positivity effect at least in certain situations. The cross-experiment divergencies of the results are discussed.
All Author(s) ListGong X., Fung HH
Journal namePsychology and Aging
Volume Number35
Issue Number2
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
Pages267 - 282
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2021-10-01 at 00:00