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Mixed Feelings Not Remembered As Well As Happy Or Sad Ones

Date:
June 27, 2008
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Imagine you're about to step onto a rollercoaster at an amusement park. You are filled with apprehension and joy, mixed emotions that last beyond the dizzying ride. How will you remember the experience? New research shows people tend to underestimate the intensity of their recalled feelings if those feelings were mixed, as opposed to purely happy or sad.

Imagine you're about to step onto a rollercoaster at an amusement park. You are filled with apprehension and joy, mixed emotions that last beyond the dizzying ride. How will you remember the experience?

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According to new research people tend to underestimate the intensity of their recalled feelings if those feelings were mixed, as opposed to purely happy or sad.

Authors Jennifer Aaker (UC-Berkeley), Aimee Drolet (UCLA), and Dale Griffin (University of British Columbia) conducted a series of studies that tested participants' emotions when they faced scenarios such as taking tests and moving, events that are typically associated with mixed emotions.

"We conducted two longitudinal experiments which show that the intensity of mixed emotions is underestimated at the time of recall--an effect that appears to increase over time and does not occur to the same degree with happy or sad emotions," write the authors. The underestimation increases over time, to the point that people sometimes don't remember having felt ambivalent at all.

Interestingly, the authors found that Asian Americans did not exhibit the same degree of memory decline for mixed emotions as Anglo-Americans did.

The authors' explanation for the modification of memory is that many people feel uncomfortable with mixed emotions. They are motivated to resolve the conflicts, and thus memories of the emotional intensity fade.

They also found that current beliefs affect the memory of mixed emotions more than the actual emotions. "Over time, people rely less on episodic memories of emotion experiences that link their recall to specific details of the situation and more on semantic cues that link their recall to general beliefs and theories," write the authors.

The research indicates that people who are more comfortable feeling mixed emotions have better memories of those emotions. "These questions are important because decisions about the future are determined less by the online (actual) emotion experience than by the memory of the emotion experience," write the authors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aaker et al. Recalling Mixed Emotions. Journal of Consumer Research, 2008; 0 (0): 080429092924198 DOI: 10.1086/588570

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Mixed Feelings Not Remembered As Well As Happy Or Sad Ones." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080625123006.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2008, June 27). Mixed Feelings Not Remembered As Well As Happy Or Sad Ones. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080625123006.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Mixed Feelings Not Remembered As Well As Happy Or Sad Ones." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080625123006.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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