Anderson, Lauren Nicole. “Enhanced Memory for Intentional Moral Actions”, Boston College, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/3851.
Memory is dependent on a variety of factors from individual differences in storage capacity to cultural differences in attentional biases. While previous research has studied the effect of the intentionality of actions on memory, few have looked into how the intersection of intentionality and morality might affect memory. This study sought to examine how morality and intentionality affect participants’ ability to remember specific information about an event. Participants read six stories from a single condition in a 2 (moral/neutral) x 2 (intentional/accidental) between-subjects design. After half an hour of non-verbal distractor tasks, participants were asked to freely recall as much information as they could from the previous stories. Although we found few significant results, we did find consistent trends suggesting that moral intentional scenarios improve participants’ recall of overall memory about the event. Specifically, morality and intentionality show trends toward improving participants’ memory for information about the story’s agent, their action, and whether or not their action was done intentionally or accidentally. The lack of significance could stem from a small sample size for each condition (N=20), which did not give enough power for statistical analyses. We discuss this and other limitations, as well as future directions on how these preliminary results apply to cultural and linguistic differences in memory and how this could have important implications for eyewitness testimony.