Do things really seem better in hindsight?

Posted on April 11, 2014

Human memory has a pervasive emotional bias - and it's probably a good thing. That's according to psychologists Timothy Ritchie and colleagues.

In a new study published in the journal Memory, the researchers say that people from diverse cultures experience the "fading affect bias" (FAB), the tendency for negative emotions to fade away more quickly than positive ones in our memories.

The participants were asked to recall a number of events in their lives, both positive and negative. For each incident, they rated the emotions that they felt at the time it happened, and then the emotions that they felt in the present when remembering that event.

Ritchie and colleagues found that every cultural group included in the study experienced the FAB. In all of these samples, negative emotions associated with remembered events faded to a greater degree than positive emotions did.

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Source material from British Psychological Society