The current experiment examined the effects of hostility and a pain stressor on affective verbal learning. Participants were classified as high or low hostile and randomly assigned to a cold pressor or a non-cold pressor group. The subsequent effects on acquisition of the Auditory Affective Verbal Learning Test [AAVLT; Snyder, K. A., & Harrison, D. W. (1997). The Affective Verbal Learning Test. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 12(5), 477–482] were measured.

As expected, high hostiles learned negative emotional words significantly better than they learned positive words. Additionally, high hostiles were impaired in their acquisition of verbal material relative to low hostile participants. A significant primacy effect for negative emotional words and an overall better recall of negative information was also found. These results support the idea that high hostiles differ from low hostiles in a number of modalities and demonstrate the persistence of negative emotional material. Future work should address the implications these results have on high hostiles in daily interactions.