Book Definition: The commonly held idea that we are more consistent in our attitudes, opinions, and beliefs than we actually are.

History (Optional)




In Your Own Words

  • Believing that you've thought the same way now as you have your whole life or in previous situations.
  • Believing that our emotions are consistent.
  • Believing that our actions are consistent.
  • You're biased because you think that your opinion now was your opinion in the past, but you may have felt differently way back when.
  • Being unable to see the changes in your thoughts/opinions because you're sure you've always thought the same way.
  • Believing that no changes are occurring in your thought processes as you grow.

Examples/Functions


  • Believing that you know as much about psychology now as you did 3 years ago.
  • Being 100% sure that you always loved running track after you've gotten rewarded for it, even though you were previously out of shape and hated it before being on the team for it in high school.
  • Thinking that because you love chocolate now you've always loved it, but in reality you hated it when you were younger.
  • Being a democrat, then when asked two years later you are a republican, and when someone points out that you changed political parties you insist that you have always been a republican.
  • "It's not a lie if you believe it" - George Castanza
  • Once you believed in being below the influence. Today, you tell everyone that you've never been in support of being below the influence, and believe that you were always above it.
  • Going on a blind date and not being thrilled about the date, but years later telling people how amazing that date was after you've fallen in love with the person.
  • Once there is a person that you are not friends with anymore and you dislike, you believe that you always disliked them even when you were friends.
  • If you hang your car keys in the same place everyday and one day they are gone, you believe that someone must have stolen them because you always keep them in that place even though the reality is you left them on the kitchen table.
  • Saying you have always liked living in Maryland the most when you said that years ago about living in Texas
  • Thinking that just because you don't like a food now, you have never liked at one point in your life.
  • Thinking that since you are depressed now, you have been depressed your whole life.

Additional Resources


  1. (Levine & Safer, 2002) 189 Undergraduate students were asked to rate their anxiety and emotions approaching a midterm exam as well as one week after the exam. Those who found out they had done well generally underestimated pre-test anxiety while those who found out they did poorly generally overestimated pre-test anxiety. Their emotional states after the test caused the students to have a distorted memory of pre-test anxiety. Personality traits contributed to the levels of pre-test anxiety also, which later caused more distortion in the recalling same anxiety levels. Students with typically positive attitudes were found to be more likely to later rate pre-test anxiety levels based on their current emotional state after the test. Overestimating pre-midterm anxiety caused students to be more likely to study more as well as be more stressed out as any future exams approached.
    Safer, M. A., Levine, L. J., & Drapalski, A. L. (2002). Distortion in memory for emotions: The contributions of personality and post-event knowledge.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(11), 1495-1507.
    http://psp.sagepub.com/content/28/11/1495.short

  2. (Scharfe & Bartholomew, 1998) A few retrospective reports of adult attachment patterns in a sample of young established couples were tested to see if memory biases influenced recall of attachment patterns of their relationship. Eight months later, the subjects completed an assessment to examine their current patterns within their relationship, as well as their memory of their attachment patterns 8 months earlier. 78% of participants reported that their past attachment category to beconsistent with their current category, 58% of participants accurately recalled their predominant time 1 attachment category. Parallel results were obtained with continuous attachment ratings, participants´┐Żmemories of their past attachment patterns were biased by their current patterns.Current relationship status was not biased towards the attachment ratings.
Scharfe, E., & Bartholomew, K. (1998). Do you remember?: Recollections of adult attachment patterns. Personal Relationships, 5(2), 219-234.