Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychological Sciences

First Advisor

James S Nairne

Committee Member 1

Jeffrey D Karpicke

Committee Member 2

David L Kemmerer


The importance of animacy has been discovered in the perception literature, the neuroscience literature, and most recently in the memory literature. However, little is known about the extent to which we track the things that agents come into contact with in the environment, and its implications for human memory. Our memory system has been shaped by natural selection to assist in our ability to survive long enough to reproduce our genes. One of the major evolutionary influences on our survival would have been our ability to track, monitor, and predict the behavior of other agents because an agent can be a predator, potential food, potential mate (as described by the animate-monitoring hypothesis; New, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2007), and even a source for contamination as stated by the law of contagion (Rozin, Millman, & Nemeroff, 1986). Across three recall experiments, I examined if the human memory system was structured to prioritize objects that were touched by agents.