How do emotions affect our memories? Gordon Bower’s theory

From the psychology charged with studying how we think, how we make decisions and how we seek explanations for what we perceive, it is often said that human beings try to put ideas together to achieve a cohesive whole that does not leave no room for “ ambiguity or contradiction. .

This is suggested, for example, by studies on the Forer effect or confirmation bias. However, when it comes to the way we remember things, this system of coherent organization of reality goes far beyond: it tries to work not only with ideas, but also with emotions. This is what studies by the famous cognitive psychologist suggest Gordon H. Bower.

Memories and emotions

In the 1970s, Bower conducted research on how we store and recall memories based on mood. He asked a number of people to memorize lists of words with different moods. He then observed their differences in memorizing these words, as they also went through various moods.

This way found a tendency to remember things memorized more easily in a mood similar to the one we have when talking about. Being sad will make it easier for us to bring up ideas or experiences that were stored in our memory while we are sad, and so are other moods.

Likewise, our mood will affect when we select what we keep in mind: what information will be the most important for their later retrieval. So, being in a good mood, we will pay more attention to the things that we value as positive, and it will be those memories that are most easily brought up afterwards. Bower called for this whole phenomenon “congruent mood treatment“, Or” treatment according to the mood “.

The imprint on memory

In short, someone could say that we tend to evoke memories that do not contradict what we think or perceive at a given moment … And yet that would be an incomplete explanation, because it does not go to the point. – beyond the explanation of this coherence which to do with the logical structuring of ideas, the rational. Gordon H. Bower’s work speaks to us of a kind of coherence that enters the realm of emotions. The emotional state definitely leaves its mark on the memory.

Leave a Comment