The Effects of Vocal Emotion on Incidental Acoustic Encoding and Short-Term Memory Recall

Scientific Study, 2018
5 Pages


The Effects of Vocal Emotion on Incidental Acoustic Encoding and Short-Term Memory Recall.


ABSTRACT: - In this study, we investigated the effect emotions have on memory of teenagers (aged 17 to 19) from South Asian backgrounds. For this purpose, we carried out the research in our high school located in Lahore, Pakistan with a student body of approximately 540 children. Our hypothesis stated that “the valence of vocal emotion will have an effect on the short term recollection of acoustically encoded prose". Recordings of a child recounting his morning in four different emotions were used and the memory test was subsequently administered to test the amount of recollection (memory). The results gathered supported our contention and highlighted the difference when comparing neutral and negative emotion groups.

Y ou might have wondered, at some point in your life that people seem to remember things better when there are emotions involved. A good example of this would be ordering a task to your employee in an unusually aggressive tone. It will be extremely unlikely that he/she forgets to complete the task and you may even find that it was completed earlier than expected. What does all of this suggest? Does it mean that our brains process and retain information better if it has a certain emotional element attached to it? Or does this phenomenon simply illustrate our disposition to emotions in the context of daily life experiences. This was first explained by Gordon H. Bower using attentional mechanisms. He proposed that information with high emotional content captures the attention more and is therefore remembered better than non-emotional information. The ideology was then further examined by Christianson, Loftus, Hoffman Loftus in their study on “Eye Fixations and Memory for Emotional Events” In this study, subjects watched either an emotional, neutral, or unusual sequence of slides containing 1 critical slide in the middle.

They found that memory for the central detail of the emotional slide was better. Their sole purpose, however, was to find out whether this enhanced memory occurred mainly due to more attention being paid to emotional information or it involved other underlying mechanisms. Results from the study ended up negating the notorious attentional explanation of the enhanced memory.

Similar studies were carried out by other psychologists as well, most notable ones being Hamann, Ely, Grafton Kilts, 1999; A. Lang Friestad, 1993; Newhagen Reeves, 1992; Reeves et al., 1989. Concurrently, it has been established by several studies that visual details of negative objects remembered by adults and teenagers are greater compared to negative and neutral. Psychologists reason that negative objects tend to have a greater extent of vividness associated with them which, in turn, prompts a person to retain their appearance better.

The concept spans out to include the degree to which negative and positive words are remembered. Investigated, in depth, by Corkin Kensinger (2003); they chose to conduct a series of experiments to investigate the impact negative words tend to have on memory. The results from all individual experiments confirmed the hypothesis by outlining how the subjects assigned the “remember” response to negative words.


The subjects were 40 A Level students aged 17 to 19 with a mean age of 18.2 (S.D=0.5). Subjects were all males and had been paid a small honorarium for taking part. Each experimental condition was assigned to a particular experimenter and consisted of 10 participants. All of these participants were fully lucid and weren’t doing an important task when approached.


The materials available to the experimenters included the consent form, contact sheet, memory task sheet, the marking scheme and a PIANO pen (black or blue). In addition to this, the experimenters carried their mobile phones on which the audio files were saved and the earphones which were used by the subjects to listen to the audio. The recording was recorded using an iPhone 5S, and the recordings were kept standard at a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sample rate, and an AAC format. The files were also de-noised and cleared of acoustic reverberation using the iZotope RX5 plugin, via Logic Pro X (version 10.4).

The 4 emotions selected for the experiment included Remorse, Contempt, Optimism and Neutral (compiled using Plutchik’s Wheel Model). During listening, the volume of the audio was kept the same by the experimenter and the files were an average of 1:17 long (including the repetition). The content of the audio clip involved a young child recounting the events surrounding his morning. The marking scheme used to mark the memory task consisted of 26 words (selected due to their prominence in the audio), all of which earned the participants 1 mark each.

No point was given to the participants for a wrong answer and no mark was cut for one either (no negative marking).


4 experimenters walked around the campus looking for students who might be willing to take part in the study. They asked students (clad in the A Level uniform- black blazer and tie) whether they would like to participate in a psychology experiment for the experimenter’s A Level Psychology class. If the participants agreed, they were subsequently asked their O Level/IGCSE English Language grade. If their grade was an A* the experimenter proceeded to hand out the consent forms followed by the contact sheet. If, however, their grade was less than an A* they were thanked for their time and the experimenter left the area to look for other participants. Those participants who met this criteria wrote down their names and signatures on the consent form and their contact details on the contact form (either phone number or email address was allowed).The consent form was constructed using the template provided by British Psychological Society. The contact form was fully hidden by papers except for the area requiring participant’s details, in order to hide details of other participants which were recorded on the same page as well.

Following this, subjects were told that they were going to be listening to an audio clip which would be repeated thrice. The experimenters then proceeded to hand out the questionnaire, for which participants were given 4 minutes to complete.

Front page of this questionnaire read, “You will hear an audio clip thrice, in which an adolescent recounts a morning. Please pay attention each time the clip is played.


Excerpt out of 5 pages


The Effects of Vocal Emotion on Incidental Acoustic Encoding and Short-Term Memory Recall
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
incidental, short-term, memory recall, acoustic encoding, vocal emotion
Quote paper
Muhammad Hamza Shah (Author), 2018, The Effects of Vocal Emotion on Incidental Acoustic Encoding and Short-Term Memory Recall, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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