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When remembering past choices, people tend to attribute positive features to chosen options and negative features to rejected options. The present experiments reveal the important role beliefs play in memory reconstruction of choices. In Experiment 1, participants who misremembered which option they chose favored their believed choice in their memory attributions more than their actual choice. In Experiment 2, we manipulated participants’ beliefs by either “reminding” participants they chose an option they actually rejected or providing a correct reminder. Participants’ memory attributions favored the option they believed they chose, both when that belief was correct and when it was erroneous. Furthermore, features attributed in a fashion favoring believed choices were more vividly remembered than features attributed in a non-choice-supportive fashion. Thus, beliefs at the time of retrieval about a choice lead to memory biases about both the valence and the vividness of remembered choice option features.


Copyright 2007 Elsevier, Journal of Memory and Language

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Memory and Language. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Memory and Language, [57, 2 (2007)] DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2006.08.012

Publication Title

Journal of Memory and Language

Published Citation

Henkel, L. A., & Mather, M. (2007). Memory attributions for choices: How beliefs shape our memories. Journal of Memory and Language, 57.2, 163-176.



Peer Reviewed