The can still be retrieved with a strong

The second major assertion of the mnemic neglect model
posits that the presence of self-protection motivation causes self-threatening
feedback to be attended to and encoded but subsequently processed in a
superficial manner. On the other hand, central trait feedback is theorised to
be processed in a deeper, more elaborative way. The model suggests that the
superior processing for central trait feedback results in the MNE (Sedikides
& Green, 2004).

Firstly, these cognitive assertions suggest that memory for
self-threatening feedback is not lost altogether (Sedikides & Green, 2009).
The model suggests that this feedback is still encoded into memory; however, it
is linkage cue impoverished with very few retrieval routes, thus impairing its
recall. Hence, the model implies that these memories can still be retrieved with
a strong enough cue (Green et al., 2008). However, an alternative account, the
perceptual-defence perspective, suggests the opposite. This account proposes that
we protect ourselves from self-threatening feedback through a filtering
mechanism or “perceptual wall” that prevents hurtful or offensive stimuli from
being processed at all (University of Calgary). This account would suggest that
self-threatening feedback is “shut out” and not encoded into memory and thus
not recoverable, directly opposing the mnemic neglect model’s assertion.

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It is possible to examine whether self-threatening memories
are recoverable by testing participants’ recognition memory for different forms
of feedback. Recognition memory is sensitive to the existence of material in
memory that is hard to recall (Shiffrin and Steyvers, 1997). This form of
memory is based on feelings of familiarity and does not require the elaborate
traversal of pathways that were formed when feedback was processed into memory
(Yonelinas, 2002). Therefore, if self-threatening feedback is encoded into
memory, as suggested by the mnemic neglect model, then recognition tasks should
be able to verify this. Green et al. (2008) tested recognition memory within
the standard mnemic neglect paradigm. After the free recall task, participants
read a set of behaviours comprised of the original feedback given at the
beginning of the experiment as well as a set of new behaviours, which the
participants had not read before. Each participant was instructed to identify
whether the behaviours were old (seen before) or new (not seen before).
According to the mnemic neglect model, there should be similar levels of accurate
recognition for both self-threatening and other forms of central trait feedback
within this task. In contrast, a perceptual-defence perspective would predict
inferior recognition for self-threatening feedback, as this theory suggests
retrieval of these memories should be impossible. The study found that
recognition memory for self-affirming, other-relevant and self-threatening
feedback was virtually uniform. These results suggest that self-threatening
feedback is encoded into memory, as these memories could be retrieved with a
powerful cue (i.e. the behaviour itself), thus supporting the mnemic neglect

Interfering with processing

In addition to suggesting that self-threatening feedback is
recoverable in memory, the mnemic neglect model’s cognitive assertions also state
that self-threatening feedback is processed in a qualitatively different manner
to other forms of central trait feedback. This assertion can be tested by interfering
with individuals’ ability to think/process as they read the different forms of
feedback (Sedikides et al., 2016). This interference negates the processing
advantage for other forms of central trait feedback, as the mental processing
resources vital for forming multiple retrieval routes are lost (Sedikides &
Green, 2009). Therefore, if the MNE is caused by differential processing, then
the effect should be lost in circumstances where mental processing is
interfered with at encoding. This has been tested in two main ways within the

Reading time

Restricting the amount of time individuals are given to read
the behaviours within the mnemic neglect paradigm interferes with their ability
to process this feedback (Sedikides & Green, 2000). Limiting reading time
restricts thinking, reduces processing time and is a determinant of poor recall
(Schroeder, 2014)


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