Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Looking Back on Positive Memories Keeps You Feeling Happy

"The Persistence of Memory" (1931) by Salvador Dali.
From VirtualDali.
As more peaceful news starts to break through again, The Times of India reports that people who remember positive experiences are happier than those who focus on negative experiences. This information is based on a study that looked at correlations between "Big Five" personality traits and happiness.

As Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University explains, "We found that highly extraverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets. This is good news because although it may be difficult to change your personality, you may be able to alter your view of time and boost your happiness."

If you've got $31.50 burning a hole in your pocket, you can pay to read the actual study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, which is good because the news article is very light on details. How was this study conducted? How many participants were there? How were cultural differences in memory controlled for?

Who knows, but at least it's kind of normal news again, right!?


  1. I can totally see how this could be true. I think it also explains while active people who seek adventure and like exploring new horizons generally appear more cheerful and satisfied and are fun to be with. It's also teh first time I hear about such thing as the Big Five - interesting!

  2. Yes, adventuresome people will probably be more positive overall for a number of reasons (physical exercise, variety, etc). Also, I was kind of surprised to hear about the Big Five again, because I thought they weren't used much anymore, but they are quite an interesting way of understanding people!

  3. Indeed! Although seems like a generalized term too, judging by the wiki page...