Date of Original Version

12-2009

Type

Working Paper

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Description

Across six laboratory Studies and one Field Study, we demonstrate that people remember an unpleasant experience as more aversive when they expect this experience to return than when they have no such expectation. Our results support a bracing explanation for this effect: When faced with the anticipated return of the experience, people prepare for the worst by remembering it as more aversive. This bracing can be “turned off” by either limiting people’s self-regulatory resources or by denying them the time to brace. These results indicate that people’s general tendency to remember aversive experiences as less unpleasant than they had actually been (as demonstrated in prior research) does not necessarily imply that people will be willing to reengage in these experiences—as the anticipation of repeating the experience would counter-act the initial memory bias

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