It's Alive! Animate Sources Produce Mnemonic Benefits

AbstractThe mnemonic benefits of animate (e.g., Tiger) over inanimate (e.g., Table) stimuli have been demonstrated across several different memory paradigms. Given the ubiquity of inanimate, computer-generated voices we investigated if the animacy of a presentation source confers mnemonic benefits. We asked: is information delivered by a human voice better remembered than information presented by a computer-generated voice? Word-lists were presented auditorily by either a human or a computer-generated voice and memory was measured using a free recall assessment. In Experiment 1, words presented in a human voice were better remembered than words presented in a computer voice. Experiment 2 demonstrated that beliefs about the animacy of a computer-generated voice were not sufficient for any benefits to accrue, suggesting a possible boundary condition for the effect. Both experiments replicated the mnemonic benefits of animate words and demonstrated further extensions of the effect to spoken word presentation.

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