Dissociation Between Speech and Emotion Effects in Short-Term Memory: A Data Reanalysis.


  • Stefan Wiens Psychology. Stockholm University




short-term memory, irrelevant speech, serial recall, auditory distraction


Performance in visual serial recall tasks is often impaired by irrelevant auditory distracters. The duplex-mechanism account of auditory distraction states that if the distracters provide order cues, these interfere with the processing of the order cues in the serial recall task (interference by process). In contrast, the unitary account states that distracters capture only attention on a general level (attentional distraction) without interfering specifically withorder processing. Marsh et al. (2018, Journal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and Cognition, 44, 882-897) reported finding a dissociation between the effects of serial recall tasks and those of a missing-item task on the disruptive effects of speech and of emotional words, as predicted by the duplex-mechanism account. Critically, the reported analyses did not test specifically for the claimed dissociation. Therefore, I reanalyzed the Marsh et al. data and conducted the appropriate analyses. I also tested the dissociation more directly and added a Bayesian hypothesis test to measure the strength of the evidence for a dissociation. Results provided strong evidence for a dissociation (i.e., crossover interaction) between effects of speech and of emotion. Because the duplex-mechanism account predicts this dissociation between speech effects (interference by process) and emotion effects (attentionaldiversion) whereas the unitary account does not, Marsh et al.’s data support the duplex-mechanism account. However, to show that this dissociation is robust, researchers are advised to replicate this dissociation in an adversarial registered report.


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