Emotion and gesture effects on narrative recall in young children and adults

Daniel Guilbert, Naomi Sweller*, Penny Van Bergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Research with children and adults suggests verbal references to negative emotion support narrative recall. To date, however, the effects of gesture on emotion recall have been ignored. Children (4–6 years) and adults viewed videos containing negatively valenced, positively valenced, and emotionally neutral stories. The narrator provided gestures reflecting the bodily state of the protagonist (negative emotion, positive emotion or neutral state), the main story event, or no gestures. Children and adults recalled more negative emotions than positive emotions or neutral states. For children, state gestures facilitated state-related recall, and event gestures facilitated event-related recall. For adults, state gestures did not impact recall, whereas event gestures weakened recall. For both age groups, gesture's benefits remained consistent across emotional valence. Results suggest emotional valence is not critical in determining whether viewing gestures facilitates narrative recall, with important implications for deciding how and when to use gestures to best assist listeners' recall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-889
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date27 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • context binding hypothesis
  • emotion
  • emotion enhanced memory
  • gesture
  • narrative recall


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