INTRODUCTION Anxiety is defined as an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one`s capacity to cope with it. Memory is defined as anything that you recall from information that has been learned or retained (Merriam-Webster, 2001). Today anxiety and memory are a part of everyone’s lives. Taking tests may be a stressful thing for many students. Test anxiety may also be a problem that many people face. Many things can affect a person’s memory and level of anxiety. In this study I want to look at sound, in scary movies, to see if it has an effect on levels of anxiety when it comes to memory recall on tests. Music and sound effects are what make up a scary movie. This is what I believe makes a person anxious when watching them. Trying to memorize information with distractions around you can be very difficult at times. Some people find it hard to study when there is noise in the background. Others find it more relaxing and easier to remember when listening to music or other background noises. In Japan, it is said that students believe background music causes better work performance (Iwanaga, Ito, 2002). According to Iwanaga and Ito, after looking at different studies, they also believe that effects of music on performance have been inconsistent. Many memory tasks that use memory for order are more prone to disruptions by background noises. “Although individuals are aware that the sound is irrelevant to the primary task and are instructed to ignore this unwanted input, performance is substantially impaired” (Tremblay, Nicholls, Alford, & Jones, 2000). A researcher (Reed, 2004) found that you lose short-term memory faster unless you rehearse the material repeatedly. “This rapid rate of forgetting can be very frustrating when we are trying to learn new information, but it can also be beneficial”. The purpose of this study is to see if sounds during a movie clip affect the amount of anxiety that a person has when asked to recall a list of words. I want to see if the clip without sound will have a better effect on the participants when asked to recall the words. They should have better memory without feeling much anxiety from the movie. On the other hand, the clip with sound should produce more anxiety in the participants to where their memory recall is lower. The independent variable will be whether they received sound or did not receive sound when watching the video. The dependent variable will be the amount of words that they can recall after being shown the clip. It is hypothesized that the participants who receive sound will recall fewer words than the participants that do not receive sound with the movie, because of anxiety. It is also hypothesized that there will be a difference in memory recall between men and women.
Data were collected from a PSY 200 and PSY 101 class at Missouri Western State College. I randomly selected Dr. Cronk’s 9:00 a.m. PSY 200 class and Carol Weipert’s 11:00 a.m. PSY 101 class. I had 12 undergraduate participants in the first class with 8 being female and 4 being male and 41 undergraduate participants in the second class with 24 being female and 17 being male.
Each group took a short memory test consisting of 21 words (see Appendix A), on a white sheet of paper that was numbered 1 to 21. At the top of the paper, it indicated gender (see Appendix B). A short clip from the horror film, The Grudge was shown to induce anxiety.
I informed the class that I was doing a study in Dr. Cronk’s Experimental Psychology class on memory and movies. The participants were told that they would have 30 seconds to look over a list of 21 words on the overhead and memorize as many as they could. After the 30 seconds they would watch a brief video clip and then try to copy as many of the words that they could remember on the sheet of paper provided. They would have 2 minutes to do so. Extra credit was offered by the instructors for participating in the study.
RESULTS A 2 (sex) x 2 (sound) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the number of items recalled correctly for subjects who were male or female and who received sound with the movie or did not receive sound. The main effect for sex was not significant (F(1,49)=1.168, p = .285). There was a non-significant main effect for sound (F(1,49)=.126, p=.267). The interaction was not significant (F(1,49)=.445, p = .508). See Figure 1 for a representation of this relationship. A 2 (sex) x 2 (sound) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the number of items recalled incorrectly for subjects who were male or female and who received sound with the movie or did not receive sound. The main effect for sex was not significant (F(1,49)=.775, p = .389). There was a non-significant effect for sound (F(1,49)=.002, p=.962). The interaction was not significant (F(1,49)=2.539, p = .117). See Figure 2 for a representation of this relationship.
DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to see if anxiety affected gender when it came to memory recall after watching a scary movie. I was expecting to find a difference between gender and whether sound affected memory. According to the results, there was no significant effect for sound or gender. There have been many studies done on anxiety and memory recall. Many of the studies that have been done have found that sound was inconsistent to memory recall (Iwanaga, Ito, 2002). Some people believe that music or other background sounds improve memory when studying. If I were to re-do this study I might not compare gender because there was not much of a difference. I might also use something besides a scary movie to induce anxiety. A larger sample size would also be better for this type of study so you can see a bigger difference between groups.
REFERENCESAlford, D., Jones, D.M., Alastair, N.P., & Tremblay, S. (2000). The irrelevant sound effect: Does speech play a special role? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 26, 1750-1754.Ito, T., Iwanaga, M. (2002). Disturbances effect of music on processing of verbal and spatial memories. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 94, 1251-1258.Reed, S.K. (2004). Cognition: Theory and applications. USA: Wadsworth/Thomson LearningMerriam-Webster collegiate dictionary (10th ed). (2001). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
Appendixes and Figures