A meta-analysis of the survival-processing advantage in memory


The survival-processing advantage occurs when processing words for their survival value improves later performance on a memory test. Due to the interest in this topic, we conducted a meta-analysis to review the literature regarding the survival-processing advantage, in order to estimate a bias-corrected effect size. Traditional meta-analytic methods were used, as well as the test of excess significance, p-curve, p-uniform, trim and fill, PET PEESE, and selection models, to reevaluate previous effect sizes while controlling for forms of small-study effect sizes. The average effect sizes for survival processing ranged between eta of .06 and .09 for between-subjects experiments and .15 to .18 for within-subjects experiments, after correcting for potential bias and selective reporting. Overall, researchers can expect to find medium to large survival-processing effects, with selective reporting and bias-correcting techniques typically estimating lower effect sizes than traditional meta-analytic technques.

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(3), 997–1012