Why most people remember bad memories better than good memories

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Why most people remember bad memories better than good memories

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I think it’s the drama of it. No one seems to be particularly impressed when things go according to plan, but when things go haywire, it leaves an impression. If a person has a good experience they might tell 5 people. If they have a bad experience, they will tell 10-15 people.

Evolutionary reasons.

Remembering wich berries killed your cousin when he ate them is much more critical than remembering wich ones were a good snack.

If you forget wich was deadly you will die, if you forget wich was tasty you only have to look for a different meal.

Remembering trauma helps you not go through it again I suppose, like when a kid first burns them self and they never do it again.

Bad memories are usually correlated with bad emotions (fear, anger) and there is some evidence pointing to the fact that we “feel” bad emotions much more deeply than good emotions (joy, happiness), because they have a bigger adaptive role from an evolutionary perspective (fear saves you from danger, anger motivates you to fix an injustice and so on), whereas the adaptive role of good emotions is less immediate and thought to be mostly limited to having a break from bad emotions. In other words, remembering bad experiences improves our survival, it allows us to learn from them so in the future we can avoid performing actions leading to them.

From the point of view of the peripheral (aka outside of brain or spine) nervous system, traumatic events elicit stronger responses than “good” events. For example, burning your finger while cooking will produce crazy levels of activation in certain areas of the brain that are involved in fear conditioning and episodic memory, for example the the basolateral amygdala and hippocampus. However, a “nice” event, like tasting something delicious does not elicit (by far) the same response. On top of that, these use different pathways in the brain. In general, episodic memory (remembering a sequence of events/actions) is hippocampus-dependent, but the other structures that participate in memory formation depend on the particularities of the memory being imprinted in the brain.

This is somewhat simplified but largely true: We remember emotionally powerful experiences in our emotional memory center, i.e., the Amygdala, and factual memory in our general memory center, the Hippocampus. The Amygdala is a much stronger memory retainer than the Hippocampus.

Evolution. You remember the bad things because it was detrimental to you. That way you can avoid it again in the future.

memories are stored based on the level of emotions at that time of the event, the HIGHER the emotion is, then the more of a memory is created, the more detail. that’s why during big events (fires, murders, shootings, war, etc.) People remember so much, including smells and often have triggers around them.. most “good” memories are nice, but not so triggering or high in emotions. what do you think would create a better memory, “wow i’m so happy about this party” or “My friend just betrayed me”.. see how negitive events are typically tied to stonger emotions, hense, stronger memories.

Fear activates the amygdala (and shuts down frontal lobe), which activates the hippocampus and makes very memorable/vivid memories.

More important to your survival to remember the stuff that almost killed you or a member of your troop.

Good things tend to come in smaller doses, less impactful if you forget some of those