Emotional information is generally remembered better than non-emotional information, especially when the emotional information is highly arousing. Priority Binding Theory has grown out of several years worth of research on memory and emotion. The theory proposes that in mixed lists comprised of negative and arousing words and neutral words, negative and arousing words will take priority during mental processing resulting in stronger encoding for the emotional words relative to neutral words with no such effect predicted for pure lists. Our lab made several attempts to extend the theory to picture stimuli, but were unsuccessful. However, the predictions of Priority Binding Theory were tested using recall, while studies in our lab have used recognition as a retrieval method. Research suggests that retrieval processes may be distinct and affected differently by various factors. Therefore, the current study manipulated retrieval methods, recognition and recall, to determine if the predictions of Priority Binding Theory were retrieval dependent. Results showed an overall increase in accuracy for negative images versus neutral images. The degree of accuracy for negative versus neutral images differed by retrieval method, with the difference between accuracy for negative versus neutral information greater in recall formats. In terms of retrieval method, recognition accuracy showed ceiling effects and no effect of list type was observed, but in recall significant differences were observed between negative and neutral stimuli in mixed lists and no significant differences observed between pure negative and pure neutral lists. The present results supports the predictions of Priority Binding Theory.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Haerich, Paul E.

Second Advisor

Cisneros, Elizabeth P.

Third Advisor

Morrell, Holly E. R.

Fourth Advisor

Vermeersch, David A.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Memory -- Physiological aspects; Emotions -- Psychological aspects;

Subject - Local

Priority Binding Theory; Negative Stimuli; Neutral Stimuli; Picture Stimuli; Recognition and recall



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives