Mnemic neglect: selective amnesia of one's faults

Constantine Sedikides, Jeffrey D. Green, Jo Saunders, John J. Skowronski, Bettina Zengel

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75 Citations (Scopus)
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The mnemic neglect model predicts and accounts for selective memory for social feedback as a function of various feedback properties. At the heart of the model is the mnemic neglect effect (MNE), defined as inferior recall for self-threatening feedback compared to other kinds of feedback. The effect emerges both in mundane realism settings and in minimal feedback settings. The effect is presumed to occur in the service of self-protection motivation. Mnemic neglect is pronounced when the feedback poses high levels of self-threat (i.e., can detect accurately one’s weakness), but is lost when self-threat is averted via a self-affirmation manipulation. Mnemic neglect is caused by selfthreatening feedback being processed shallowly and in ways that separate it from stored (positive) self-knowledge. For example, mnemic neglect is lost when feedback processing occurs under cognitive load. The emergence of mnemic neglect is qualified by situational moderators (extent to which one considers their self-conceptions modifiable, receives feedback from a close source, or is primed with improvement-related constructs) and individual differences moderators (anxiety, dysphoria, or defensive pessimism). Finally, the MNE is present in recall, but absent in recognition. Output interference cannot explain this disparity in results, but an inhibitory repression account (e.g., experiential avoidance) can: Repressors show enhanced mnemic neglect. The findings advance research on memory, motivation, and the self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-62
Number of pages62
JournalEuropean Review of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date24 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2016


  • memory
  • self
  • forgetting
  • motivation
  • self-protection
  • social memory
  • mnemic neglect
  • MNE


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