Motivational Reasons For Misremembering Past Negative Events

Leonardo Nicolao, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Rajagopal Raghunathan, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Previous studies have shown that people often misremember the intensity of a past negative event, with a bias towards remembering the event as having been less negative than it actually was. This paper sheds some light on the reasons for this effect. Across two studies, we show that this effect holds for self-relevant but not for self-irrelevant events, suggesting that a motivational process underlies the revision of memory. Results from experiment 2, which show that the revision of memory only occurs when people do not have resources necessary to cope with the negativity of the past event, offer further evidence consistent with a motivational explanation.
[ to cite ]:
Leonardo Nicolao and Rajagopal Raghunathan (2007) ,"Motivational Reasons For Misremembering Past Negative Events", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 467-470.