Does mood-congruence or causal search govern recall bias? a test of life event recall

Karen G. Raphael, Marylene Cloitre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recall bias has been hypothesized to occur as a function of mood congruence or causal-search related mechanisms. This study tested whether either mechanism related to recall of stressful life events over a year. Respondents consisted of 136 cases suffering from chronic facial pain and 131 acquaintance controls. After reporting life events for 1 year at monthly intervals, respondents attempted to recall these same events at year-end. Mood and likelihood of engaging in causal search were also ascertained at year-end. Results showed no effect of mood congruence or causal search on recall of event occurrence. However, mood did influence subjective appraisal of those events that were recalled. In addition, a significant mood-related memory deficit was detected. Findings indicate that mood-related memory deficit may reduce effect sizes artifactually. Furthermore, when assessing effects of recall bias, recall of event occurrence must be considered separately from subjective appraisal of event characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1994


  • Life events
  • Memory Causal search
  • Methodology
  • Recall bias
  • Reporting bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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