Adaptive Memory: Animacy Enhances Free-Recall but Impairs Cued-Recall

Earl Popp, Michael Serra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recent research suggests that human memory systems evolved to remember animate things better than inanimate things. In the present experiments, we examined whether these effects occur for both free recall and cued recall. In Experiment 1, we directly compared the effect of animacy on free recall and cued recall. Participants studied lists of objects and lists of animals for free-recall tests, and studied sets of animal-animal pairs and object-object pairs for cued-recall tests. In Experiment 2, we compared participants' cued recall for English-English, Swahili-English, and English-Swahili word pairs involving either animal or object English words. In Experiment 3, we compared participants' cued recall for animal-animal, object-object, animal-object, and object-animal pairs. Although we were able to replicate past effects of animacy aiding free recall, animacy typically impaired cued recall in the present experiments. More importantly, given the interactions found in the present experi
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-201
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition
StatePublished - Feb 2016


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