Date of Award

Fall 12-7-2018

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Lawrence Patihis

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Lucas Keefer

Committee Member 2 School

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Donald Sacco

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Abstract

As we experience successes and failures in life, do we bias our memories of childhood? Cognitive appraisal theory would predict that emotions are elicited based on the current appraisal of an event or person. There is some research that these current appraisals can also distort memories of emotions surrounding an event. No past research has investigated whether current appraisal of life success would affect important autobiographical memories. Here, we examine the effects on childhood memory of love felt towards parents. Due to current appraisal theory, we expected memory of love towards parents would be prone to distortion and bias. We predicted upward changes in appraisal of success would lead to increases in reported memory of love towards parents. We also explored whether this effect would be moderated by how people attributed their successes towards themselves, parents, and childhood, as well as their level of locus of control and self-esteem. In Experiment 1, we found that within a subsample of undergraduate participants with specific characteristics (e.g., low self-esteem, high external locus of control, and lower attribution of success towards themselves) changing appraisal of success resulted in changes in childhood memories of love towards their mother. In Experiment 2, we found that adults from the general public, regardless of individual differences, were as a whole susceptible to changes in current appraisal of success and recalled more childhood memories of love towards their mother. In both experiments, memory of love towards fathers was not as susceptible to our experimental manipulation.

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