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Memory. 2008;16(5):538-47. doi: 10.1080/09658210802010463.

Remembering pride and shame: self-enhancement and the phenomenology of autobiographical memory.

Author information

1
University of Liege, Belgium. a.dargembeau@ulg.ac.be

Abstract

People's self-images are grounded in autobiographical memories and, in particular, in the phenomenological experience associated with remembering. The desire to increase or maintain the positivity of the self-image (i.e., the self-enhancement motive) might thus play an important role in shaping memory phenomenology. This study examined this hypothesis by asking participants to recall positive and negative events that involve self-evaluations (i.e., pride and shame) and positive and negative events that involve evaluations about others (i.e., admiration and contempt); various phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensory details, feeling of re-experiencing) were assessed using rating scales. The results show a positivity bias (i.e., subjectively remembering positive events with more details than negative events) for events that involve self-evaluations but not for events that involve evaluations of others. In addition, this bias was stronger for people high in self-esteem. It is concluded that biases affecting the phenomenology of autobiographical memory are part of the arsenal of psychological mechanisms people use to maintain a positive self-image.

PMID:
18569682
DOI:
10.1080/09658210802010463
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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