Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

The Power of Words and Memory Recall

Publication Date

Fall 2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Adam Smiley

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Priming is a technique used in psychological studies that creates an original stimulus with the intention of influencing perceptions of later stimuli (Bermeitinger, 2016). The relationship between, memory, emotion, and priming has been extensively studied within the field of psychology. Specifically, the influence of emotional priming on memory, recall, and overall cognitive performance has been observed (Fugate et al., 2018; Kaspar et al., 2015; Yang et al., 2023). The idea that negative emotional priming leads to better recall of positive stimuli is supported in a study done by Kaspar et al. (2015). We used that article as a basis for one of our hypotheses, and our research was intended to support that idea and further explore the relationship between memory and emotion. We hypothesized that positive emotional priming would lead to better recall of negative emotional terms. We also hypothesized that participants primed with negative emotions would have worse recall compared to participants primed with positive emotions. Our participants consisted of undergraduate students from Belmont University. Participants were given a list of words to review and memorize to the best of their ability in 30 seconds. They then were presented with a distractor task and upon completion were asked to recall the words they attempted to memorize. That entire procedure was repeated with the addition of a video intended to emotionally prime participants inserted before the second word list was shown. Participants were placed in either the positive or negative priming conditions. Results will be presented at SURS.

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