Additional evidence that valence does not affect serial recall

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In immediate serial recall, a canonical short-term memory task, it is well established that performance is affected by several sublexical, lexical, and semantic factors. One factor that receives a growing interest is valence, whether a word is categorised as positive (e.g., happy) or as negative (e.g., pain). However, contradictory findings have recently emerged. Tse and Altarriba in two experiments with one set of stimuli and fixed lists concluded that valence affects serial recall performance, while Bireta et al. in three experiments with three sets of stimuli and randomised lists concluded that valence does not affect serial recall performance. Two experiments assessed the experimental discrepancy between Tse and Altarriba and Bireta et al. For both experiments, in one block, every participant saw the exact same lists as those used in Tse and Altarriba, and in the other block, each list was randomly constructed for each participant, as was done in Bireta et al. In Experiment 1, with concrete words varying in valence, we replicated the results of Tse and Altarriba with fixed lists and the results of Bireta et al. with randomised lists. In Experiment 2, with abstract words with both fixed and randomised lists, we replicate the absence of effect valence like Tse and Altarriba and Bireta et al. Overall, we conclude that valence does not affect serial recall and the discrepancy was attributed to the peculiarity of the fixed lists used by Tse and Altarriba.



Valence, serial recall, short-term memory