This research assessed the stability of peoples’ memory for their past emotions over time and the role of changing appraisals in accounting for biases in emotion recall. Following Ross Perot’s abrupt withdrawal from the presidential race in July 1992, supporters (N = 227) rated their initial emotional reactions and described their interpretations of the event. After the elections in November, supporters (N = 147) again recalled their initial emotional reactions and described their current appraisals of Perot. In contrast to some current models, memories for past emotions were not indelible, and a general tendency to overestimate the intensity of past emotions was not observed. Rather, systematic distortions in emotion recall were found in the direction of consistency with current appraisals. These findings support the conclusion that memories for emotional responses are partially reconstructed or inferred on the basis of current appraisals of events.
Levine, L. J. (1997). Reconstructing memory for emotions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126(2), 165-177.