Effects of Emotion and Perspective on Remembering Events: An Eye-Tracking Study

Gulcay C., CANGÖZ B.

JOURNAL OF EYE MOVEMENT RESEARCH, vol.9, no.2, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 9 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


The main objective of this study is to investigate the effects of the emotional content of an event and participants' perspective on the memory and eye-tracking measurements for central and peripheral details. The data have been collected from 130 undergraduate male students (18- 33 ages). Three series of seven different emotional thematic photographs (positive, negative, neutral) were used. Participants were subjected to only one of the three series, either in his own perspective condition or observer perspective condition. During the presentation of thematic photograph series participants' eye movements were recorded. All analysis for memory and eye-tracking measurements were carried out with 3 (Emotional Content: Positive, Negative, Neutral) X 2 (Participants' perspective: Own perspective, observer perspective) between-subjects factorial ANOVA. The results indicated that although central and peripheral details took almost equal attention in both negative and neutral events, only details of the negative event was remembered better. In addition, when compared to negative and neutral events participants looked longer at positive event's central details as well as peripheral details, only details of negative event were remembered better. Consequently, memory enhancement effect occured only in negative emotional event both for central and peripheral details, even though participants paid less or equal attention these details. In addition to effects of emotion, it was seen that like autobiographical memory (Nigro and Neisser, 1983) participants' perspective has also an effect on event memory and attention measured by eye-tracking. According to eye-tracking results looking with his own perspective to the event causes narrowing of attention while looking with observer's perspective to event causes extending of attention. In memory results it was seen that participants in his own perspective condition remembered central details better than participants in the observer condition. In conclusion, it is observed that enhanced memory for negative emotional event can occur independently of attention, so it could be said that attention is not sufficient by itself to remember an event with details, emotional dimension of the event has a decisive role. Additionally, perspective have an effect on attention as well as event memory.