Survival Processing, Ancestral Relevance, and the Role of Elaboration
Recent research has shown that when lists of words are processed for their relevance to a survival scenario (e.g., stranded in the grasslands of a foreign land), true memory performance is higher than when the same words are processed for a number of other, well-known meaningful or deep processing scenarios (e.g., moving to a new house, rating for pleasantness, self-reference) (for a review, see Nairne, 2010). This phenomenon, known as the adaptive memory effect, is said to showcase the human memory system’s proclivity toward more efficient processing of information for its survival relevance, something that may permit better adaptation to our environment.
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