Temporal distance and person memory: Thinking about the future changes memory for the past

Natalie A. Wyer, Timothy J. Perfect, Sabine Pahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Psychological distance has been shown to influence how people construe an event such that greater distance produces high-level construal (characterized by global or holistic processing) and lesser distance produces low-level construal (characterized by detailed or feature-based processing). The present research tested the hypothesis that construal level has carryover effects on how information about an event is retrieved from memory. Two experiments manipulated temporal distance and found that greater distance (high-level construal) improves face recognition and increases retrieval of the abstract features of an event, whereas lesser distance (low-level construal) impairs face recognition and increases retrieval of the concrete details of an event. The findings have implications for transfer-inappropriate processing accounts of face recognition and event memory, and suggest potential applications in forensic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805-816
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
Early online date5 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • psychological distance
  • person memory
  • construal level

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