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Impact of current grief on memory for past grief in spousal bereavement

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This study examined the impact of changes in level of current grief over time on changes in memory for past grief. Following from previous work on the impact of current affective state on memory for past affectively salient events, bereaved individuals who underwent a greater reduction in grief over time were expected to show a similar pattern of changes in memory for past grief. A sample of conjugally bereaved participants completed measures of current grief and memory for past grief at the time of the loss of their spouse at each of the 2, 6, 13, and 30 month post-loss time periods. As predicted, those who reported greater reduction in grief over the course of the study were more likely to remember their past grief as progressively less severe relative to those who underwent less reduction in grief over time. A nonrecursive causal model analysis verified that changes in memory for past grief were explained by changes in current grief. These results were discussed in terms of contemporary reconstructive memory accounts of the effect of affective state on memory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: VA Palo Alto Health Care System, CA, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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