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Vacation memories

Every time I take a vacation, I can't help but think about what research by Mitchell, et al. says about selective memories of positive events and repression of negative events. Furthermore, research Wirtz, et al. says that when people consider vacationing again, the probability of doing so depends on the (biased) recalled events rather than actually experienced events.

Mitchell, T. R., Thompson, L., Peterson, E., & Cronk, R. (1997). Temporal adjustments in the evaluation of events: The "rosy view." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 421-428.
In a series of three investigations we examined people’s anticipation of, actual experiences
in, and subsequent recollection of meaningful life events: a trip to Europe, a
Thanksgiving vacation, and a 3-week bicycle trip in California. The results of all three
studies supported the hypothesis that people’s expectations of personal events are more
positive than their actual experience during the event itself, and their subsequent recollection
of that event is more positive than the actual experience. The ‘‘rosy view’’ phenomenon
is associated with an increase in the number of negative thoughts during the event
which seem to be caused by distractions, disappointment, and a less positive view of the
self. However, these effects are short-lived; within days after the event, people have much
more positive evaluations of the event. We discuss alternative interpretations for our
findings and implications for group and organizational settings.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 20th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
Are you saying that you are going to remember the positive aspects of your vacation and repress the negative parts? Or, are you just doing what you do well and analyzing your experience to validate (or invalidate) their findings?
Jul. 20th, 2007 06:12 am (UTC)
I like this study because it validates my experiences with vacations. All of my adult life I've noticed that vacations are not totally a bowl of cherries, yet people around me fit the findings: they seem to recall mostly the positives and forget about the negatives. As Dave Barry said, "the human race is far too stupid to be deterred from tourism by a mere several million years of bad experiences."
Jul. 29th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
yeah... on a vacation, when something goes wrong, it's "an adventure"; when something is boring, it's "relaxing"... a pity we aren't better at applying this sort of positively-skewed perspective to our daily lives! I've been trying to work on that, actually.
Jul. 29th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
Interesting observation. My life sounds so much more fun now. I will look at every day as an "adventure" and learn to "relax" through it all.

Actually, for the first time in years, I am truly happy. I think that is partly because I have learned to go with the flow and focus on the positives. I still have work to do on my new attitude, but it is well worthwhile.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )