Functions of Remembering and Misremembering Emotion Academic Article uri icon


  • Memory for the emotions evoked by past events guides people's ongoing behaviour and future plans. Evidence indicates that emotions are represented in at least two forms in memory with different properties. Explicit memories of emotion can be retrieved deliberately, in a flexible manner, across situations. Implicit memories of emotion are brought to mind automatically by cues resembling the context in which an emotional event occurred. One property they share, however, is that both types of memory are subject to forgetting and bias over time as people's goals and appraisals of past emotional events change. This article reviews the cognitive and motivational mechanisms that underlie stability and change in memory for emotion. We also address functions that remembering and misremembering emotion may serve for individuals and groups. Although memory bias is typically viewed as problematic, changes in representations of emotional experience often promote goal-directed behaviour and facilitate coping with challenging situations. Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Levine, L. J., Lench, H. C., & Safer, M. A.

citation count

  • 81

publication date

  • November 2009