The longevity of adaptive memory: evidence for mnemonic advantages of survival processing 24 and 48 hours later

L.H.C. Raymaekers*, H.P. Otgaar, T. Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Prior studies have convincingly demonstrated that survival-related processing of information enhances its subsequent retention. This phenomenon, known as the survival recall advantage, generalises to other stimuli, memory domains, and research populations, thereby underscoring its reliability. As previous studies used only short retention intervals between survival processing and the memory test, an important yet hitherto unanswered issue is whether this effect persists over time. The present experiment therefore examined whether survival processing also produces mnemonic benefits when retention is tested after longer delay periods. Participants (N =81) rated the relevance of words according to a survival and a moving scenario, and were then randomly assigned to the typical immediate (3-minute delay) retention test condition or conditions that included a 24- or 48-hour interval between survival processing and memory testing. In each of these conditions survival processing led to higher surprise free recall and recognition rates than processing words according to the moving scenario. Thus this study provides evidence that illustrates the longevity of survival processing advantages on memory performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2014


  • Adaptive memory
  • Delayed recall
  • Survival processing
  • TRUE
  • TIME

Cite this