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Evaluation and Recall of Valenced Stimuli as a Function of Spatial Positions

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posted on 2021-11-12, 20:03 authored by Hewson, Gary C. H.

Meier and Robinson (2004) had subjects identify pleasant and unpleasant words presented individually either at the top or bottom of a computer screen. Subjects identified pleasant words faster when they appeared at the top of the screen and unpleasant words faster whey they appeared at the bottom of the screen. The authors discussed this finding in terms of metaphors noting that in language good things are often allocated upwards (e.g. “things are looking up for me”) and bad things downwards e.g. (“I’m down in the dumps”). The aim of the present study was to investigate whether this relationship between affective stimuli and visual space occurs automatically (implicitly) or whether explicit processing of affective stimuli is required. A second aim was to investigate if memory for affective words is influenced by spatial location. In Experiments 1 and 2 subjects were shown pleasant and unpleasant words presented either at the top or bottom of a computer screen. Half the words were coloured green and half coloured purple. Subjects had to identify the colour as quickly as possible. No significant interaction between stimulus valence and spatial position was found, nor did recall interact with spatial position. In Experiment 3 subjects had to explicitly identify the valence of the words shown either at the top or bottom of the screen. It was predicted that positive stimuli would be explicitly evaluated faster and recalled more accurately when shown at the top of the screen, with the opposite holding true for negative stimuli. Participants were quicker to identify positive words at the top of the screen. Recall did not interact with spatial position. Overall the results of this study were broadly supportive of the hypothesis for explicit evaluation but not so for implicit evaluation or recall.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


McDowall, John