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An exploration of the relationship among valence, fading affect, rehearsal frequency, and memory vividness for past personal events

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The affect associated with negative (or unpleasant) memories typically tends to fade faster than the affect associated with positive (or pleasant) memories, a phenomenon called the fading affect bias (FAB). We conducted a study to explore the mechanisms related to the FAB. A retrospective recall procedure was used to obtain three self-report measures (memory vividness, rehearsal frequency, affective fading) for both positive events and negative events. Affect for positive events faded less than affect for negative events, and positive events were recalled more vividly than negative events. The perceived vividness of an event (memory vividness) and the extent to which an event has been rehearsed (rehearsal frequency) were explored as possible mediators of the relation between event valence and affect fading. Additional models conceived of affect fading and rehearsal frequency as contributors to a memory’s vividness. Results suggested that memory vividness was a plausible mediator of the relation between an event’s valence and affect fading. Rehearsal frequency was also a plausible mediator of this relation, but only via its effects on memory vividness. Additional modelling results suggested that affect fading and rehearsal frequency were both plausible mediators of the relation between an event’s valence and the event’s rated memory vividness.
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Keywords: Self; fading affect bias; memory; rehearsal; vividness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA

Publication date: July 3, 2017

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