Emotion and False Memory

Emotion Review 8 (1):8-13 (2016)
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Abstract

Emotional memories are vivid and lasting but not necessarily accurate. Under some conditions, emotion even increases people’s susceptibility to false memories. This review addresses when and why emotion leaves people vulnerable to misremembering events. Recent research suggests that pregoal emotions—those experienced before goal attainment or failure —narrow the scope of people’s attention to information that is central to their goals. This narrow focus can impair memory for peripheral details, leaving people vulnerable to misinformation concerning those details. In contrast, postgoal emotions—those experienced after goal attainment or failure —broaden the scope of attention leaving people more resistant to misinformation. Implications for legal contexts, such as emotion-related errors in eyewitness testimony, are discussed.

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