Happiness and reminiscing: The role of time perspective, affect, and mode of thinking

Conducted 3 experiments to determine the affect of reminiscing on reported well-being. 51 students at a professional school for translators and interpreters in Exp I and 36 undergraduates in Exp II recounted events that they had experienced as positive and pleasant or as negative and unpleasant. In Exp III, 64 undergraduates wrote down a particularly positive or negative event and then asked to explain either why or how this event occurred. Ss in all 3 experiments were then asked to rate their happiness and life satisfaction. Overall results indicate that Ss' ratings of general life satisfaction depended not only on the hedonic quality of the life experiences they happened to recall but also on the way in which they thought about them. Specifically, the hedonic quality of present life events influenced Ss' judgments of well-being in the same direction. The hedonic quality of past events, however, had a congruent impact on well-being judgments only when thinking about them elicited affect in the present but otherwise had a contrast effect on these judgments. Two factors were found to determine if thinking about the past elicits affect: whether Ss describe the events vividly and in detail or only mention them briefly, and whether Ss describe how the events occurred rather than why they occurred. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)