Australasian Mathematical Psychology Conference 2019

Distraction and delay: Memory and evaluation of temporal sequences of events

Alice Mason
Psychology, University of Western Australia
Mark Hurlstone
University of Western Australia
Geoff Ward
University of Essex
Gordon Brown
University of Warwick
Simon Farrell
University of Western Australia

Previous studies have found a direct relationship between accessibility of items in memory and retrospective evaluations of sequences. For example, people typically show a preference for improving over declining temporal sequences and this preference can be reversed if a delay is inserted between encoding and evaluation. This has been linked to the reduced recency in recall of events during delayed recall. If items are encoded with a continuous distractor, recency is usually reinstated in memory. We, therefore, compared memory and evaluation of improving and declining temporal sequences under delayed recall and with a continuous distractor during encoding. We predicted that the continuous distractor during encoding would reinstate recency in both memory and evaluation. We further predicted that improving sequences would be more positively evaluated compared to declining sequences under continuous distraction (as measured by willingness to pay). We found some initial evidence in favor of a direct relationship between memory for individual items within the sequence and overall evaluation of the sequence.