Exploring Affect Recall Bias and the Impact of Mild Depressive Symptoms: An Ecological Momentary Study
Traditional clinical and research assessments rely on retrospective questionnaires, that ask individuals to retrospectively summarize how they felt during the last period. Nevertheless, people are not accurate at recalling past experiences without altering the content, especially when they are required to report their affect. In this study, we adopted a smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to collect daily assessments of positive (PA) and negative (NA) affect throughout two weeks in a sample of healthy students (n = 47). Results showed that both PA and NA are subject to the recall bias; more specifically, people tended to overestimate both affects during the retrospective assessment. This bias was influenced by the presence of mild depressive symptoms as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), which led participants to a greater overestimation of NA and higher underestimation of PA. While NA bias was more context-dependent, PA bias showed more stability across time.
KeywordsEcological momentary assessment Momentary affect Recall bias
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