Adaptive memory: fitness relevant stimuli show a memory advantage in a game of pelmanism

Wilson, Stuart and Darling, Stephen and Sykes, S (2011) Adaptive memory: fitness relevant stimuli show a memory advantage in a game of pelmanism. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 18 (4). pp. 781-786. ISSN 1069-9384

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A pelmanism (matched-pairs) game was used in order to test the hypothesis that survival-relevant stimuli that are likely to have been present during human evolution (e.g. a snake in attack position) enjoy a memory advantage over other survival-relevant (but “modern”) stimuli (e.g. a threatening image of a gunman). Survival-relevant stimuli were matched for arousal, and presented in one of two 5x4 grids along with filler items. Participants were asked to match the pairs in the grids by clicking on successive squares to reveal stimuli. Participants made significantly fewer errors when matching “evolutionarily relevant” survival stimuli compared to other stimuli. Additionally, on incorrect trials, attempted matches were significantly closer to the location of evolutionarily relevant targets than for other stimuli. Results suggest that objects which likely posed a consistent threat throughout human evolutionary history are better remembered than other, equally arousing and survival relevant, stimuli.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Thanks are due to Chris Brough and Lynne Newlands for help with data collection and recruitment, and Craig Stevenson for writing the program. Thanks also to Queen Margaret University and Glasgow Caledonian University for supporting this research, and to three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adaptive memory, evolutionary psychology, emotion.
Divisions: School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management > Psychology and Sociology
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2011 12:28
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 14:10


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