These studies investigate underappreciated benefits of reading memories, including memories of other people, for happiness, psychological well-being, and loneliness. In the studies, college students (Study 1), residents of assisted-living facilities (Study 2), and MTurk workers online (Study 3) wrote down memories. They also predicted how they would feel after reading their own and others’ memories at a later date. Then, later on, participants read memories that they or another participant had written. Individuals felt happier, less lonely, and higher in well-being after reading memories, regardless of whether those memories were their own or someone else’s. Participants underpredicted the affect boost that they would gain from reading memories. This affective forecasting error was related to individuals’ perceptions of the “mundaneness” of the memories, and the error was especially pronounced when individuals read others’ memories rather than their own. Implications of reading memories for promoting well-being and reducing loneliness are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Affective forecasting
- Vicarious memories