Memory as a self-protective mechanism

Sedikides, Constantine and Green, Jeffrey D. (2009) Memory as a self-protective mechanism Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3, (6), pp. 1055-1068. (doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00220.x).


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The autobiographical memory literature has established that people remember poorly unpleasant, relative to pleasant, life events. We complemented this literature with a theoretical model – the mnemic neglect model – and an experimental paradigm that exerts tight control over the to-be-remembered material. Participants recall poorly self-threatening feedback compared to self-affirming or other-relevant feedback – a phenomenon we labeled mnemic neglect. The phenomenon is motivational: it is in the service of self-protection. The phenomenon is also flexible. Participants can switch from self-protection (e.g. avoiding negative feedback) to an alternative goal (e.g. striving for feedback with improvement potential), when circumstances call for it such as when the feedback is provided by a close other rather than a stranger. Finally, self-threatening feedback may be forgotten, but it is not lost: the mnemic neglect effect is not obtained in recognition recall.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00220.x
ePrint ID: 141997
Date :
Date Event
23 September 2009Published
Date Deposited: 25 May 2010 11:44
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 20:08
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