Recalling autobiographical self-efficacy episodes boosts reappraisal-effects on negative emotional memories

Emotion. 2022 Sep;22(6):1148-1158. doi: 10.1037/emo0000949. Epub 2021 Feb 25.


Self-efficacy is a key construct in behavioral science with significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. A growing body of work has shown that perceptions of self-efficacy can be increased through recall of autobiographical episodes (AEs) of mastery ("self-efficacy memories") in experimental settings. Doing so contributes to improvements in clinically relevant processes, such as emotion regulation and problem solving. Here we examine whether the recall of self-efficacy AEs contributes to more adaptive appraisals for personally experienced negative memories. Seventy-five healthy individuals each identified an idiosyncratic personal negative memory that was screened for emotional attributes. Participants were then asked to either recall self-efficacy (SE, n = 25) or positive (POS, n = 25) autobiographical episodes. We investigated induction effects on subsequent reappraisals of the personal negative memories. The SE induction was associated with significant reductions in distress, and subjective physiological responses as compared to the POS induction. No significant induction effects emerged in autonomic regulation. These findings suggest that recalling self-efficacy episodes may promote adaptive self-appraisals for negative memories, which in turn may contribute to recovery from stressful events and, with further research, may prove to be a useful adjunctive strategy for treatments such as CBT. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Self Efficacy