Remember walking in their shoes? The relation of self-referential source memory and emotion recognition

Chui De Chiu, Alfred Pak Kwan Lo, Frankie Ka Lun Mak, Kam Hei Hui, Steven Jay Lynn, Shih kuen Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deficits in the ability to read the emotions of others have been demonstrated in mental disorders, such as dissociation and schizophrenia, which involve a distorted sense of self. This study examined whether weakened self-referential source memory, being unable to remember whether a piece of information has been processed with reference to oneself, is linked to ineffective emotion recognition. In two samples from a college and community, we quantified the participants’ ability to remember the self-generated versus non-self-generated origins of sentences they had previously read or partially generated. We also measured their ability to read others’ emotions accurately when viewing photos of people in affect-charged situations. Multinomial processing tree modelling was applied to obtain a measure of self-referential source memory that was not biased by non-mnemonic factors. Our first experiment with college participants revealed a positive correlation between correctly remembering the origins of sentences and accurately recognising the emotions of others. This correlation was successfully replicated in the second experiment with community participants. The current study offers evidence of a link between self-referential source memory and emotion recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-130
Number of pages11
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • Cognitive empathy
  • disorder of self
  • self-generation
  • self-understanding
  • source monitoring


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