Being Positive is Good for Memory

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We can wish some memories would last a lifetime, yet a number of physical and emotional factors can negatively affect our skills of retaining information throughout the life.

A new study*, published on the Psychological Science journal, achieved results regarding the fact that people who feel ambitious and cheerful are less likely to have a decline in their memories as they grow older.

A team, consisting of researchers from different universities, analyzed the data of 991 middle-aged and older American adults who took part in a national research that was conducted in three different periods of time (between 1995-1996; between 2004-2006, and between 2013-2014).

In each assessment, the participants provided information about a series of positive emotions that they experienced over the course of the past 30 days. In the final two assessments, however, the participants completed their memory performance tests as well. These tests consisted of reminding the words right after they were presented, and once again after 15 minutes.

The researchers analyzed the association between the positive affectivity and memory loss, through concepts, such as age, gender, educational background, depression, negative affectivity, and extroversion.

Claudia Haase, an associate professor at the Northwestern University and the senior author of the article, said “The results showed that memory declines based on aging.” Emily Hittner, a PhD graduate from the Northwestern University and the head author of the article, added “However, people with high levels of affectivity had a less memory loss for almost ten years.”

As is known, memory loss is a serious source of concern for the aging population across the world. As is seen in this study, positive affectivity plays a key role in aging in a healthy manner. The fields of any future studies can focus on ways that could associate positive affectivity with memory, such as physical health or social relations.

* Emily F. Hittner, Jacquelyn E. Stephens, Nicholas A. Turiano, Denis Gerstorf, Margie E. Lachman, Claudia M. Haase. Positive Affect Is Associated With Less Memory Decline: Evidence From a 9-Year Longitudinal Study. Psychological Science, 2020; 095679762095388 DOI:10.1177/0956797620953883