Adaptive Memory: Survival Processing in Ancestral and Fictional Scenarios


The aim of this study was to examine the function behind adaptive memory by comparing groups of participants processing information in ancestral and fictional scenarios related to survival. The thesis was that participants would retain information to a higher extent if processing occurred in a fictional, threatening scenario compared to scenarios based on pleasantness and survival in grasslands. There were four different scenarios, whereas three acted as experimental and one as a control. The comparison was measured by the number of recalled words after a rating process which consisted of rating the relevance of words to survival in respective scenario. Seventy-one participants of differing age were recruited from different parts of the world through social media. They participated by completing a memory experiment on The results showed that there were no significant differences between groups and the number of rated words recalled. The thesis could therefore not be confirmed. No significant difference could be found in rating of the words in the different scenarios. Much research made on the topic of adaptive memory has suggested that participants remember better when processing information in scenarios described as threatening survival in grasslands and during a zombie outbreak. It seems that simple threat to survival does not increase the retention of information. The increased retention found in scenarios related to zombies may not be due to the popularity this subject has in film and games.

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@inproceedings{Brattberg2015AdaptiveMS, title={Adaptive Memory: Survival Processing in Ancestral and Fictional Scenarios}, author={Marcus Asplund Brattberg and Tobias Johansson}, year={2015} }