Rehearsal and Event Age Predict the Fading Affect Bias across Young Adults and Elderly in Self-Defining and Everyday Autobiographical Memories

Exp Aging Res. May-Jun 2021;47(3):232-261. doi: 10.1080/0361073X.2021.1882026. Epub 2021 Feb 9.


The faster fading of unpleasant affect than pleasant affect is known as the Fading Affect Bias (FAB). The FAB generalizes across cultures and event types, it is positively related to rehearsals and healthy outcomes, and it is negatively related to unhealthy outcomes. Experiment 1 Objective, Sample/Population, and Method: We examined the importance of different rehearsal types for the FAB across self-defining and everyday events in 58 college age participants using a self-guided questionnaire procedure in Experiment 1. Experiment 1 Results: We found robust FAB effects across event types, FAB increased with both event age and event sharing (number of people), and rehearsals mediated these relations. Moreover, event sharing and talking about the event combined to predict the FAB. Experiment 2 Objective, Sample/Population, and Method: In Experiment 2, we used the self-guided questionnaire procedure from Experiment 1 for 31 college students and 12 elderly participants 68 to 84 years old, as well as an interview procedure with 13 elderly participants 68 to 94 years old. Experiment 2 Results: We combined the elderly data because both groups showed similar FAB patterns. We found robust FAB effects across both event types, the FAB increased with event age and participant age, and it increased with talking rehearsals. Conclusions: The results extend the FAB to self-defining events and the elderly, they emphasize the importance of various rehearsal types, and they are in line with FAB research, age research, and research on several emotion regulation models.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall
  • Surveys and Questionnaires