When you recall an emotional experience in the past, do you think you remember it exactly as it occurred? Chances are you don’t. And according to a new experience sampling study, your personality, tiredness, and age might influence the way you remember these emotions.
Participants answered were asked to rate the how much they were experiencing certain emotions (such as disappointment, sleepiness, anger, and happiness) on a Likert scale using iESP software, 7 times per day for two weeks. At the end of each day, they were asked to give an average value for each emotion for the day. Further, they were asked at the end of the study to estimate an average for each emotion.
The researchers evaluated personality, fatigue, and age’s effect on how the participants would recall their emotions. Here’s what they found:
In one-day time frames, the Big Five personality traits, extraversion and neuroticism predicted how participants recalled happiness. In two-week time frames, neuroticism and extraversion predicted recall of experienced fear and sadness, while neuroticism, openness, and conscientiousness predicted recollection of anger. Further, the researchers found that “conscientiousness was associated with lower affect levels” and “openness to experience predicted retrospective enhancement of experienced emotions.”
People who were tired when they recalled their feelings at the end of the day, reported higher levels of sadness, fear, and anger. Additionally, their recall of happiness was “less intense.”
Emotional recall was influenced by age, as age has a stabilizing effect. Previous research showed that older people try to be in situations that have a more favorable emotional impact. And, they have developed better emotional regulation strategies.
Through experience sampling technology, researchers were able to see how people’s recall of their emotions was influenced by people’s personality, fatigue, and age. So next time you think about your emotions, ponder on how your personality- or tiredness – or age – might be influencing your memories.
Retrospective Ratings of Emotions: the Effects of Age, Daily Tiredness, and Personality