Moods and Memories: Elation, depression, and the remembering of the events of one's life

Mark Snyder, Phyllis White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Three experiments investigated the influence of current mood states on the remembering of past events of one's own life. In the first and the second experiment, participants were induced to experience either the mood state of elation or the mood state of depression. They then reported events and experiences that had occurred during the previous week. In the first and the second experiments, using converging methods for assessing memory for past events, participants differentially reported past events and experiences whose affective quality was congruent with their current mood states: participants in elated mood states preferentially reported pleasant events and happy experiences, and participants in depressed mood states preferentially reported unpleasant events and unhappy experiences. Additional evidence from the second experiment suggests that the differential remembering of affectively positive or affectively negative events requires that, at the time of the remembering of these events, participants actually experience the mood states of elation or depression and not simply attempt to remember past events that could account for elation or depression. In the third experiment, designed to assess the plausibility of “experimental demand” interpretations of these findings, participants who experienced ostensibly effective mood inductions that were actually ineffective failed to manifest differential remembering of affectively positive and affectively negative events. Implications of this series of experiments for understanding the mechanisms that may link moods and memories, as well as the intrapersonal and the interpersonal consequences of mood states, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-167
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1982


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