Subjects were required to freely-associate to a series of words, half of which had high emotionality ratings, and were then randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group had to recall the associates they had produced five minutes, and the other 24 hours, later. This design was adopted to differentiate between word emotionality and subject arousal as explanations of previous findings with this paradigm, that there were memory differences on emotional words. Results were inconsistent with the arousal hypothesis and indicated that word emotionality did appear to interact with memory. Further, measurements of reaction times in the initial association task showed that male subjects had increased latencies to words which followed emotionally rated words. The findings are discussed, and speculatively explained, in terms of sex differences in hemispheric lateralization, and also offer some support for psychodynamic theories of memory effects.
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