The purpose of the present study was to examine the association between naturally occurring changes in people’s impressions and their recollections of themselves, close others, and their relationship. It was reasoned that (a) reconstructing the past consists primarily of characterizing it as similar to, or different from, the present; (b) people employ implicit theories of personal stability to make this judgment; and (c) when these theories imply stability, people may overestimate the similarity between the past and the present. In an initial session, subjects rated themselves, their dating partner, and their relationship on dimensions that people expect to be stable over time. Two months later, subjects made current evaluations on the same dimensions and recalled their earlier ratings. Subjects whose impressions became more favorable over time recalled more positive evaluations than they had provided originally, and those whose impressions became less favorable recalled more negative evaluations. Finally, subjects recalled their causal attributions for their partner’s behavior as being more consistent with their current impressions than was the case. In general, subjects overestimated the similarity between the present and the past.
McFarland, C., & Ross, M. (1987). The relation between current impressions and memories of self and dating partners. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 13(2), 228-238.