Memories can fade over time but according to new research, how we perceive people now can impact how we remember the past. The study is proof of why it’s important to focus on the positive.

A recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science found that memories of love, like the feelings we have towards our parents in childhood, can be changed based on how you feel about them in the present.

photo: Edward Cisneros via Unsplash

Participants who focused on the positive aspects of their parents were more likely to recall stronger feelings of love for their parents than those who focused on negative aspects. More research is needed to determine if other emotions can be impacted in the same way.

“The significance of this research lies in the new knowledge that our current evaluations of people can be lowered if we choose to focus on the negative, and this can have a side effect: the diminishing of positive aspects of childhood memories,” says Patihis. “We wonder if wide-ranging reappraisals of parents––perhaps in life or in therapy––could lead to intergenerational heartache and estrangement. Understanding this subtle type of memory distortion is necessary if we want to prevent it.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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