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Daily Memory Lapses and Affect: Mediation Effects on Life Satisfaction


Memory lapses are a type of daily challenge that are common to most people and are associated with negative mood outcomes. How daily challenges are associated and linked to broad domains, like life satisfaction and well-being, has been underexamined. Life satisfaction is often assessed from a macro-level that emphasizes average differences over longer timeframes, yet daily experiences (i.e., micro-level) may accumulate to shape these characteristics. In the current study, we examined if daily memory lapses (e.g., difficulties with word-finding or forgetting a meeting) were associated with life satisfaction, and whether this relationship was mediated by the associated changes in positive and negative affect due to daily memory lapses. In a coordinated analysis of two datasets (N = 561, ages 25–93 years), we used multilevel structural equation modeling to assess how daily memory lapses may influence the broader outcome of global life satisfaction. The pattern of results was similar across datasets: memory lapses were associated with reduced positive affect and increased negative affect. Further, the daily affect associated with daily memory lapses significantly mediated the relationship between lapses and life satisfaction, while the direct relationship between memory lapses and life satisfaction was non-significant. This study provides support for the role of daily challenges, specifically memory lapses, influencing broader constructs such as psychological well-being by identifying the key factor of affective responses. Future work should identify other salient daily challenges, as well as explore if reducing the affective response to challenges through targeted interventions would mitigate impacts on distal functioning.

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Fig. 1

Data Availability

The EAS and ESCAPE datasets are available from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine ( and, respectively), but restrictions apply to the availability of these data. These datasets were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. However, data are available under reasonable request from the authors and with permission of the Principal Investigators of EAS and ESCAPE, as well as their affiliated organizations.


  1. See Supplementary Table 2 for within-person estimates.


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This work was supported by the NIA (Grant Number R01AG062605) to JM. The funder has no role in study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation, or preparation of manuscripts. The current study uses data previously collected by two studies: EAS (Grant Numbers R01AG12448, R01AG02672, & AG003949) and ESCAPE (Grant Numbers R01AG039409, R01AG042595, P01AG03949 and CTSA1UL1TR001073).

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Correspondence to Jennifer R. Turner.

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The authors declare they have no financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate

Data collection in the EAS and ESCAPE datasets was approved by the institutional review board at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; participants provided written informed consent to participate. The current study was approved by the Pennsylvania State University institutional review board (STUDY00012793). Informed consent for this project was waived by the IRB due to the exclusive use of secondary datasets.

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Turner, J.R., Mogle, J., Hill, N. et al. Daily Memory Lapses and Affect: Mediation Effects on Life Satisfaction. J Happiness Stud 23, 1991–2008 (2022).

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  • Life satisfaction
  • Memory lapses
  • Daily assessment
  • Coordinated analysis
  • Multilevel mediation