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How memories function when a person is threatened by group stereotypes

Published: 07th December 2023 Last updated: 13th December 2023

Whether ethnicity, nationality, gender or class, the social categories with which people identify are an important source of a person's self-esteem. This can be undermined in context with other groups, such as in situations where individuals are judged based on stereotypes. Such reactions then trigger feelings of fear and anxiety. So how can an individual reduce the psychological impact of identity threat? Is there a psychological mechanism that is universally effective in this area? Lucy Tawidian explored those questions in her dissertation, which she defended on Dec. 6.

She looked at self-affirmation and autobiographical memory, which use a specific form of memory. These include memories of mastery (guiding memories) as a confirmation mechanism. She conducted this research in the United States and Lebanon.

The title of her dissertation is: Your Memories have no power here. A cross-cultural examination of autobiographical recall in a context of social identity threat.