Self-Guides and Emotionally Significant Childhood Memories: A Study of Retrieval Efficiency and Incidental Negative Emotional Content


Journal Article

Two studies examined the effects of several cue types on ease of retrieval and incidental negative emotional content of childhood memories. Subjects were presented an individually tailored list of cues and verbalized the first memory of a childhood experience that came to mind. Both studies included self-guide cues (trait attributes representing accessible, emotionally significant self-evaluative standards), affect cues (positive and negative emotion labels), and yoked-control cues (self-guide cues of other subjects). In Study 1, both ease of retrieval (average time to retrieval and number of failed trials) and proportion of incidental negative content varied by cue type; negative affect cues led to the most efficient retrieval and most negative content, whereas self-guide cues (especially self-discrepant cues) showed greater ease of retrieval and negative content than control cues. Study 2 included two additional self-referential cue types (TAT and self-rating checklist) to examine the influences of self-referentiality and affectivity on the dependent measures. Negative affect cues and self-guide cues were again associated with greater ease of retrieval and greater incidental negative content. Both negative emotionality and self-evaluative significance appear to influence retrieval of emotionally significant childhood memories.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Strauman, TJ

Published Date

  • January 1, 1990

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 59 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 869 - 880

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0022-3514.59.5.869

Citation Source

  • Scopus