Children's memories for the positive and negative

Children’s memories for the negative

My memory is a little messed-up.

I remember some conversations almost verbatim. Other times, I remember almost nothing – not even the people I talked to.

I recall very little from my childhood, and what I do remember is skewed towards the negative.

So, I went into psychology to study memory.

Well, the answers keep coming….

A recent study1 showed that children’s memory is better for negative than positive information.

In this study, children listened to six short-stories about the animals as they viewed pictures representing the stories. There were two positive stories, two negative stories, and two neutral stories.

An hour after hearing the stories, the children were asked everything they remembered from the story-telling session. The results showed that children remembered more information from the positive and negative stories than neutral stories. Out of the two emotional stories, they remembered more from the negative than positive stories.

The authors indicate that the results fit a general tendency for children – and adults – to remember negative rather than positive information.

It seems that my memory isn’t messed-up. It’s simply average.



Van Bergena, P., Wall, J., & Salmon, K. (2015). The good, the bad, and the neutral: The influence of emotional valence on young children’s recall, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 29-35.

Image Attribution

Frown Clown” by Shawn Cambell. CC2.0