Weep and recall

Apparently, those who try to rein in their emotions at critical moments may fare poorly when it comes time to remember what it was they were trying to avoid bein’ all emotional about.

James Gross at Stanford University in California and Jane Richards at the University of Texas at Austin showed 57 volunteers a disturbing film about a surgical procedure, then asked them questions about their emotional state, how much effort they put into hiding their feelings, and their memory of events in the film.

They found people who made the most effort to keep their emotions in check had the worst recall for what they had seen.

This effect may not have as much to do with emotions as it does distractions, however; a second part of the study found no difference in people who tried to control their facial expressions vs. people who tried to distract themselves with other thoughts.

(NewScientist: “Stiff upper lips may impair memories.” [Sept 15, 2005])