The role of schematic complexity in the survival processing effect.
(2015) The role of schematic complexity in the survival processing effect., no. 48.
The current study looked at some possible proximate mechanisms underlying the survival processing advantage. The study investigated if and how schematic complexity and perceived survival threat influenced the mnemonic boost found when processing information for its survival relevance. A total of ninety-two individuals participated in a surprise memory test after reading one of three possible survival scenarios (Highlands original, Highlands plus one sentence or Highlands long) and rating a list of words for their relevance of survival to the given scenario. The free recall test and several subsequent questions such as thoughts about death, self and survival during the rating task, were then analysed. The results showed no significant differences between conditions and neither of them showed the survival processing advantage. The results suggest that the use of the Highland environment might not be an appropriate survival scenario as compared to Nairne's Grasslands scenario. A comparison Grasslands scenario might have given a better understanding of this. Possible explanations for the obtained results are further discussed as well as other possible proximate mechanisms. Keywords: adaptive memory, survival processing, proximate mechanisms, functionalism, evolutionary psychology