Strategy Effect: Expected Free Letter Recall and Thought Relevancy During Natural and Induced Emotional States

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John C. Koeppel

Advisor Department



The experiment investigated the role of encoding strategies on recall memory and recall task-relevant thought with groups experiencing positive and negative mood induction procedures (MIPS) and with a group of naturally dysphoric students self-reporting symptoms of depression. Recall task-relevant thought as subject listed and rated was also examined. Subjects included 54 mood-normal and 18 dysphoric students who reported normal color vision and who were aged 18-47. The expected memory task utilized consisted of 42 letters arranged into seven trigram doublets. One third of subjects experienced one of three conditions: (a) no explicit strategy, (b) a color code perceptual strategy, and (c) a verbal rehearsal plus perceptual strategy. Mood was manipulated via A Convenient Self-Referencing Mood Induction Procedure and measured with the Depression and Positive Affect subscales of the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist (MAACL). Results indicated that both the positive and negative inductions produced expected reliable changes per MAACL change scores. At recall, mood-normal controls demonstrated superior recall relative to dysphoric subjects, but only within the perceptual (color-code) strategy. Mood attributable recall deficit was not expected within a strategy condition. Recall deficit was not demonstrated by positive and negative MIP groups and no reliable differences were found between groups within any condition for recall task-relevant thought. Recall and recall task-relevant thought were positively related overall. These variables were positively correlated within mood-normal control subjects but not for mood subjects and within the strategy conditions as opposed to the condition of no strategy. Findings lend some support for the resource allocation model for cognitive deficit associated with mood. Directions for future research are presented.