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Phenomenal characteristics of autobiographical memories for positive, negative, and neutral events

by Arnaud D'Argembeau, Christine Comblain, Martial Van Der Linden
Applied Cognitive Psychology ()

Abstract

We investigated memory qualities for positive, negative, and neutral autobiographical events. Participants recalled two personal experiences of each type and then rated their memories on several characteristics (e.g. sensorial and contextual details). They also reported whether they see the events in their memories from their own perspective (field memories) or whether they see the self engaged in the event as an observer would (observer memories). Positive memories contained more sensorial (visual, smell, taste) and contextual (location, time) details than both negative and neutral events, whereas negative and neutralmemories did not differ on most dimensions. Positive and negative events were more often recollected with a field perspective than neutral events. Finally, participants were classified in four groups according to the repressive coping style framework. Emotional memories of repressors were not less detailed than those of the other groups.

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