Emotional influences on attention and memory: Attention affects retention

Michael Blank, Chad J Marsolek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Despite being well-studied, the possible influences of emotion on memory include a broad range of sometimes disparate effects, including the role of emotion in narrowing attention (e.g., the "weapon focus" effect), enhancements in memory accuracy, impaired memory for details of emotional events, and misplaced confidence in emotional memories. Such effects are often treated independently, and so an integrated framework for understanding emotional memory-from encoding to consolidation to retrieval-is elusive. In this chapter, we review the effects of emotion on the accuracy, specificity, and contents of memory, and discuss two primary explanations for these effects. Then, we review work on scene perception and scene memory. Scene perception research has focused almost solely on non-emotional memory and attentional processes, and has therefore been largely ignored by emotion researchers. We integrate emotional memory research into the existing framework of (non-emotional) scene perception and scene memory. Using this framework, we explain how many seemingly disparate influences of emotion on memory-in particular the role of attentional allocation during encoding- can be coherently understood as an extension of existing theories of scene perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMotivation
Subtitle of host publicationPsychology, Strategies and Impact on Performance
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781633217386
ISBN (Print)9781633217256
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


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