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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989 Sep;57(3):522-31.

Women's theories of menstruation and biases in recall of menstrual symptoms.

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Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.


Previous research is consistent with the proposition that people use implicit theories of personal stability or change in remembering the attributes they possessed in the past. However, there has been little systematic investigation of the relation between these implicit theories and memory biases. In this study, the relation between women's theories of menstrual distress and their recollections of physical and affective symptoms was examined. Ss completed daily questionnaires in which they evaluated themselves on several physical and affective symptoms. Later, some Ss were asked to recall the ratings they had made on a day when they were menstruating; others recalled a day when they were not menstruating. At the time of recall, all Ss were in the intermenstrual phase. Finally, Ss completed a measure designed to assess their theories of how they are typically affected by menstruation. The recollections of Ss who recalled the menstrual state were biased so as to be consistent with their theories of menstrual distress: The more a woman believed in the phenomenon of menstrual distress, the more she exaggerated, in recall, the negativity of her symptoms during her last period. The recollections of women asked to recall the intermenstrual state were unrelated to their theories of menstruation. Furthermore, consistent with previous research, the daily questionnaire ratings revealed that physical symptoms varied with menstrual cycle phase, whereas affective symptoms did not. Finally, comparisons between subjects' theories and daily ratings revealed that, on average, women exaggerate the degree to which they experience changes during menstruation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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