Crime-Related scenarios do not lead to superior memory performance in the survival processing paradigm

I. Mangiulli*, N. Hover, M.L. Howe, H. Otgaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Processing information according to its survival value improves memory retention. We used mass-testing across three experiments to examine whether the survival processing advantage could be extended to crime-related contexts when adopting both offender's (Experiment 1 and 2) and victim's (Experiment 3) perspectives. Interestingly, crime-related scenarios produced the lowest memory retention in Experiments 2 and 3, indicating no mnemonic benefit resulting from crime-related processing. Furthermore, in Experiments 1 and 2, we failed to replicate the standard survival processing effect, while in Experiment 3 the superior survival memory retention emerged in comparison with the standard control conditions (i.e., moving and pleasantness). Overall, our experiments showed that crime-related contexts did not lead to superior memory retention. Moreover, although we detected some failures to replicate the survival processing effect, this evidence is not sufficiently compelling to argue that there was a general absence of the survival processing advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-399
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2022


  • Adaptive memory
  • survival processing advantage
  • crime-related scenario

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