Abstract: Protecting one’s positive self-image from damage is a fundamental need of human beings. Forgetting is an effective strategy in this respect. Individuals show inferior recall of negative feedback about themselves but unimpaired recognition of self-related negative feedback. This discrepancy may imply that individuals retain negative information but forget that the information is associated with the self. In two experiments, participants judged whether two-character trait adjectives (positive or negative) described themselves or others. Subsequently, they completed old-new judgments (Experiment 2) and attribution tasks (Experiments 1 and 2). Neither old-new recognition nor source guessing bias was influenced by word valence. Participants’ source memory was worse in the negative self-referenced word processing condition than in the other conditions. These results suggest there is a self-serving bias in memory for the connection between valence information and the self.
Keywords: self-image, forgetting, connection, negative information