The biasing nature of the tip-of-the-tongue experience: When decisions bask in the glow of the tip-of-the-tongue state.

The present study demonstrates a counterintuitive pattern regarding the affective nature of the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon (when a currently inaccessible word feels right on the verge of retrieval). First, TOT reports were more likely for questions corresponding to positively valenced than negatively valenced targets. Second, TOT states were associated with a bias toward inferring positive characteristics regarding the unretrieved information. During TOT states, participants inferred a greater likelihood that the unretrieved target was positively valenced (Experiment 1), that it was earlier presented with a higher value number (Experiment 2), and that a pictured celebrity whose name was unretrieved was ethical (Experiment 3). The association between TOTs and positive affect, including the positivity bias during TOTs, is analogous to the “warm glow” phenomenon shown with familiarity. Like familiarity, TOT states may be associated with a warm glow feeling. This warm glow feeling, in turn, may lead to a positivity bias regarding the unretrieved information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)