Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Survival Processing Advantage, Animacy Effect
Many of our abilities and physical features have been shaped by evolution with the ultimate goal that these changes will help increase our survival and enhance fitness. One such evolutionary adaptation is memory. Countless studies have suggested that our memory systems are particularly tuned to information that is relevant to our survival (e.g., Nairne, Thompson, & Pandeirada, 2007). This finding has become known as the survival processing advantage. Another less studied processing method, which has become known as the animacy effect, states that animate objects are better recalled than inanimate objects (e.g., VanArsdall, Nairne, Pandeirada, & Blunt, 2013). The present study examined the effect that both of these processing effects would have on recall by comparing memory for animate and inanimate objects in a survival related condition and a non-survival related condition. However, this study differed from other studies in the way that it contained more ecological validity. All of the previous studies on survival and animacy either presented words or images on a screen that people had to remember later on. This study was composed of a more life-like situation, induced by a realistic video of a person walking through grasslands, which contained animate and inanimate objects appearing on the screen. Based on previous findings related to both the survival and animacy processing advantages, it would be logical to expect animate objects to be recalled at higher rates than inanimates and for recall to be better in the survival group. The results showed that no survival effect appeared to be present, but the animacy effect was seen in both conditions and was stronger in the survival condition than in the hunting condition. The results are discussed in the context of previous findings.
Klein, Daniele, "An Ecologically Valid Test of the Survival Processing and Animacy Effects" (2020). Honors Theses. 2484.