Taking care of business? Grateful processing of unpleasant memories

  • Watkins P
  • Cruz L
  • Holben H
 et al. 
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Abstract

In this study we investigated the impact of grateful processing on bringing closure to unpleasant emotional memories. After recalling an open memory, participants were randomly assigned to one of three writing conditions. For three sessions, participants wrote about neutral topics, the unpleasant event itself, or positive consequences from the event from their open memory that they felt they could now be grateful for. Results showed a significant effect of writing condition, and the pattern of means were as predicted: those in the grateful condition showed more memory closure, less unpleasant emotional impact, and less intrusiveness of the open memory than the other writing conditions. Grateful reappraisal of unpleasant memories may help individuals emotionally process these events, thus bringing emotional closure to these incidents. This might be one reason that grateful people tend to be happy people. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coping
  • Gratitude
  • Intrusive memory
  • Intrusive thought
  • Memory

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Authors

  • Philip C. Watkins

  • Lilia Cruz

  • Heather Holben

  • Russell L. Kolts

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