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Mnemic neglect: selective amnesia of one’s faults

Sedikides, Constantine, Green, Jeffery D., Saunders, Jo, Skowronski, John J. and Zengel, Bettina (2016) Mnemic neglect: selective amnesia of one’s faults European Review of Social Psychology, pp. 1-78.

Record type: Article


The mnemic neglect model predicts and accounts for selective memory for social feedback as a function of various feedback properties. At the heart of the model is the mnemic neglect effect (MNE), defined as inferior recall for self-threatening feedback compared to other kinds of feedback. The effect emerges both in mundane realism settings and in minimal feedback settings. The effect is presumed to occur in the service of self-protection motivation. Mnemic neglect is pronounced when the feedback poses high levels of self-threat (i.e., can detect accurately one’s weakness), but is lost when self-threat is averted via a self-affirmation manipulation. Mnemic neglect is caused by self-threatening feedback being processed shallowly and in ways that separate it from stored (positive) self-knowledge. For example, mnemic neglect is lost when feedback processing occurs under cognitive load. The emergence of mnemic neglect is qualified by situational moderators (extent to which one considers their self-conceptions modifiable, receives feedback from a close source, or is primed with improvement-related constructs) and individual differences moderators (anxiety, dysphoria, or defensive pessimism). Finally, the MNE is present in recall, but absent in recognition. Output interference cannot explain this disparity in results, but an inhibitory repression account (e.g., experiential avoidance) can: Repressors show enhanced mnemic neglect. The findings advance research on memory, motivation, and the self.

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Accepted/In Press date: 2 April 2016
Organisations: Human Wellbeing


Local EPrints ID: 392660
ISSN: 1046-3283
PURE UUID: 87146642-fd29-4d6c-afa8-ac56f4aa5a9c
ORCID for Bettina Zengel: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 15 Apr 2016 09:25
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 19:14

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Author: Jeffery D. Green
Author: Jo Saunders
Author: John J. Skowronski
Author: Bettina Zengel ORCID iD

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