Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Juliana Leding

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Brown


In recent years, a growing body of research suggests that the human memory system has adapted to recall information that would have been vital to our ancestors’ survival. One area of importance is animacy, where animate objects are better remembered than inanimate ones. From the study of animacy a new area of interest came about; perceived threat of stimuli. It was suggested that some of the stimuli used in previous research could be perceived as more threatening than others which could be a potential confound. This research lead to a potentially new phenomenon, the threat effect, which suggests that threatening stimuli are better remembered than nonthreatening stimuli. The current research attempts to examine richness of encoding as one possible underlying mechanism of this novel threat effect. In this study, participants were asked to generate ideas for each word of a word list and then later recall as many words as possible that the participants had generated ideas for. The results of this study provide further evidence of animacy and threat effects on recall. Threatening items generated more ideas than non-threatening items. The effects of this idea generation also mediated recall for threatening items, provides evidence for richness of encoding being one plausible underlying mechanism of the threat effect. This study did not replicate findings of past research that showed greater idea generation for animate items when compared to inanimate items. This study also failed to replicate the mediation found previously of idea generation on free recall of animate words.