Do external motivational processes—in the form of social influences—shape people's memories for trauma? In this experiment, we examined the effects of social influence on memory and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomology for an analogue traumatic event. Seventy-two participants watched a distressing film; some received feedback about others' reactions to the film that either emphasised or downplayed the distressing nature of the film; control participants received no feedback. A week later, participants reported their symptoms, rated their memory on a number of characteristics and we tested their memory for the film's content. Participants who received feedback downplaying the film reported fewer PTSD-related analogue symptoms and weaker memory characteristics than their counterparts. The results suggest that people's memory phenomenology and analogue symptoms are influenced by others' feedback, but only when others' reactions downplayed the distressing nature of the film.
- Autobiographical memory
- Social influences