Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Romantic relationships and fading of affect for memories of the shared past

Summary The tendency for the affect associated with positive autobiographical events to fade less over time than the affect associated with negative autobiographical events (the fading affect bias, FAB) has been observed in a variety of contexts, but numerous mediators have been reported. This current study searches for the FAB, and for potential moderators of the FAB, in the context of romantic relationship memories. Both nonsexual types of memories and sexual types of memories showed the FAB. Moreover, the FAB emerged for memories of current relationships, but not for memories of past failed relationships. The FAB also emerged for securely attached individuals, but not for individuals exhibiting other attachment styles. In addition, the FAB was moderated by relationship quality, (for failed relationships) need to belong, sexual esteem, and sexual depression. Implications of these findings both for memory and for relationships are discussed.

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