(A)symmetries in Memory and Directed Forgetting of Political Stimuli

Andrew Franks, Hajime Otani, Gavin T. Roupe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As political information becomes increasingly prevalent in all forms of media, it is becoming increasingly important to understand when and why biases in remembering such information occur. Using an item-method directed forgetting procedure, we conducted two online experiments to determine the efficacy of admonitions to forget politically charged stimuli that were either congruent or incongruent with participants' political beliefs. Participants viewed slideshows wherein each item combined the face of a famous politician (Donald Trump or Joe Biden) with a word that was positive, negative, or neutral in emotional valence. Each slide was followed by an instruction to remember or forget. After a brief filler task, a recognition test assessed their memory for both remember and forget slides and (in Experiment 2) assessed their beliefs about the truth of each word/face pairing and beliefs about the accuracy of their memory. The results showed that for both liberal and conservative participants, politically congruent stimuli were more conducive to recognition memory and more resistant to directed forgetting than politically incongruent or neutral stimuli. There were small asymmetries wherein conservatives showed greater biases in memory and other cognitive measures. We discuss possible explanations of the results and their implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-80
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • congruent and incongruent
  • directed forgetting
  • political information
  • politically liberal and conservative


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