Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Sharda Umanath

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2020 Jessica K D Selig


We experience Involuntary Autobiographical Memories (IAMs) when memories of our personal past come to mind without any intention of retrieval. IAMs are often emotional, but their lasting impacts on mood are unclear. The present study employed a 2 x 3 mixed experimental design. Eighty-five undergraduate students were randomly assigned to an emotion cue condition (positive, neutral, or negative) and were asked to complete a monotonous vigilance task exposing them to IAM-inducing cues. Participants reported IAMs they experienced, rating the characteristics of some memories immediately and others after a delay. IAMs’ influence on mood was assessed throughout the study. Results indicated that the phenomenological characteristics of memory appear to be independent of the emotional valence of the memory, stable, and not reconstructed over time. Repeated experience of negative or positive memories did not influence participants’ affect in a corresponding direction. Rather, all participants displayed decreasing levels of affect over the course of the study, regardless of the emotional valence of their memories. We discuss these results in terms of existing models of retrieval of memory and their implications for our understanding of the properties of IAMs and the mechanisms to regulate their impact.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.