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Forgetting feelings: Opposite biases in reports of the intensity of past emotion and mood.

  • Author(s): Kaplan, Robin L;
  • Levine, Linda J;
  • Lench, Heather C;
  • Safer, Martin A
  • et al.

Memory for feelings is subject to fading and bias over time. In 2 studies, the authors examined whether the magnitude and direction of bias depend on the type of feeling being recalled: emotion or mood. A few days after the U.S. Presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, participants reported how they felt about the election outcome (emotion) and how they felt in general (mood). A month after the elections, participants recalled their feelings. The intensity of past emotion was recalled more accurately than the intensity of past mood. Participants underestimated the intensity of emotion but overestimated the intensity of mood. Participants' appraisals of the importance of the election, which diminished over time, contributed to underestimating the intensity of emotion. In contrast, participants' strong emotional response to the election contributed to overestimating the intensity of mood. These opposing biases have important implications for decision making and clinical assessment.

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