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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 May;82(5):792-803.

It feels like yesterday: self-esteem, valence of personal past experiences, and judgments of subjective distance.

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Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


Supporting predictions from temporal self-appraisal theory, participants in 3 studies reported feeling farther from former selves and experiences with unfavorable implications for their current self-view than from equally distant selves and experiences with flattering implications. This distancing bias occurred when assignment to negative and positive pasts was random, for both achievement and social outcomes and for single episodes as well as longer term experiences. Consistent with a motivational interpretation, the distancing bias was stronger among high than low self-esteem participants and occurred for personal but not for acquaintances' past events. Frequency of rehearsal and ease of recall of past episodes also predicted feelings of distance, but these variables did not account for the Self-Esteem x Valence interaction on subjective distancing of personal events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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