Stiff Upper Lips May Impair Memories

BAD news for Brits: keeping a stiff upper lip during upsetting events can impair your memory. 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. In the second part of the study, they instructed a different set of 175 volunteers either to try to control their facial expressions or to distract themselves by thinking about something else. Both groups did equally poorly at remembering what happened in the film (Journal of Research in Personality, DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2005.07.002).

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