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How Trusting Your Partner Shapes Your Memories

How Trusting Your Partner Shapes Your Memories

(Lack of) trust influences memory of partner’s behavior.

‘Do you trust me?’ Aladdin asked the still hesitant Jasmine. It was an important question in different ways. Her trust not only enabled him to organize the flying carpet journey of a lifetime, it could also make Jasmine forget about Aladdin’s prior mistakes.

Memorizing behaviors

The way you trust your partner is the way you remember him or her, American scientists at the Northwestern University and Redeemer University College found out. Just like you expect your lover to behave in the future, you also memorize his or her behavior in the past by matching it to your present feelings.

With the help of other universities the researchers analyzed four different longitudinal studies and demonstrated that the greater a person’s trust in their partner, the more positively they tend to remember their partner’s past transgressions.

That’s irrespective of how they earlier described the same transgressions. The researchers also controlled for relationship commitment, relationship satisfaction, self-esteem and attachment orientations.

Forgiving transgressions

Trust seems to influence memories about the number, severity, and consequentiality of the transgressions. And it also works the other way around; people that don’t trust their lover too much, memorize their former behavior more negatively.

“So that’s why trust is so crucial to a relationship, researcher Eli J. Finkel, says. “It makes you partly delusional.” If you do want to have a more objective view on your relationship, here’s how professionals look at it.

Researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of London, the University of Texas at Austin contributed to the study.

Source: Futurity, Northwestern University
Luchies LB, Wieselquist J, Rusbult CE, Kumashiro M, Eastwick PW, Coolsen MK, & Finkel EJ (2013). Trust and Biased Memory of Transgressions in Romantic Relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology PMID: 23397968

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  • Kelsey Necker
    March 7, 2013, 05:42

    PSYCH 101 Mr. Harden
    This is a good article! Specifically talking about memories, i liked how it said “It makes you partly delusional.” It is so very true that based on your memories is how you act towards or think about your partner. When you trust that person you tend to think more positively and block out the negative memories and vise versa. If you are an unlucky one and don’t trust your partner i could only image the stress and emotions that run through your mind. Always being reminded of those bad memories and wanting to block them out but can’t. Always having those flash backs is not a good thing in a relationship. This could cause more stress and maybe having a hard time sleeping or even getting to sleep. Even those who do trust their partner also have many emotions. -Long story short, trust is obviously a huge part in a relationship, and if there is no trust then there is no relationship.-

  • LT
    April 12, 2013, 02:21

    LT – Memory is a mental process that allows us to acquire, retain and retrieve information. Sensory memory has a great capacity for memory but can only hold it for a short time also, you can only pay attention to only a few aspects of all the environmental information you are receiving. The information that is transferred to the working memory where it processed very quickly in a matter of seconds and most of the information fades away. So, only a small amount of information is actually encoded in your long term memory and can be retrieved at a later time. Considering how much information and stimuli a person comes in contact with on a daily bases it is impossible to remember the specific detail of anything or keep some memories organized. Therefore, it’s natural that our memories are distorted and are not always accurate. If you trust your partner you most likely have a more positive relationship with them than someone who does not trust their partner so when you try to retrieve information or a memory such as a transgression you are unable to recall it accurately so you fill in the missing information in a positive light.