Many people tend to look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, remembering the good times and the good feelings, while forgetting the bad.
But a new study suggests that heavy marijuana users may have some trouble letting go of negative emotions tied to memories — a phenomenon that’s also seen in people with depression. Earlier research has also linked marijuana use with depression.
Although the new results are very preliminary, the findings, presented here Friday (May 25) at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, may offer clues about the link between marijuana use and depression.
The study explored a psychological phenomenon called “fading affect bias,” in which people tend to hold on to positive feelings tied to their memories more than they hold on to negative feelings. In other words, negative feelings related to our memories fade faster than positive ones.
Psychologists have hypothesized that this phenomenon, which is generally seen in people without mental health conditions, may serve as a sort of “psychological immune system,” said study lead author Daniel Pillersdorf, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Windsor in Ontario. This may be “so that we think more pleasantly in general, and don’t have that cognitive burden of holding on to negative emotions associated with memories,” Pillersdorf said.
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