Self-esteem memories: Feeling good about achievement success, feeling bad about relationship distress
College students and middle-aged adults provided memories of occasions when they felt especially good or especially bad about themselves. Probes directed the memory search to several age intervals during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Predominant themes represented in self-esteem memories differed consistently as a function of emotional valence. Memories of positive self-worth frequently focused on achievement/mastery themes, whereas memories of negative self-worth frequently focused on interpersonal/affiliation themes. When people evaluate the self through the lens of autobiographical memory, interpersonal distress is portrayed as especially damaging and achievement success is portrayed as especially enhancing. The asymmetry between positive and negative self-esteem memories is explained using multiple theoretical perspectives within social and personality psychology.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Pillemer, D.B., Ivcevic, Z., Gooze, R.A., Collins, K.A. Self-esteem memories: Feeling good about achievement success, feeling bad about relationship distress. 2007. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 33 (9), pp. 1292-1305.