Since Brown and Kulik’s (1977. Flashbulb memories. Cognition, 5, 73–99. http://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(77)90018-X) seminal work, a central issue in memory literature is whether flashbulb memories (FBMs) hold a special status within autobiographical recalls. To address this issue, we refer back to Brown and Kulik’s definition of FBM as a snapshot of the reception context of an important public news and propose a method to identify the contents of this snapshot. Although Brown and Kulik found that the majority of FBM’s contents could be classified within six canonical categories (CCs), here we claim that assessing the presence of FBMs through guided CCs’ questions – as done by most researchers in this field – can be misleading. We suggest, instead, to use free recall reports to identify the consistent perceptual elements of the snapshot. Across two test-retest studies, we show that the contents of FBMs assessed by free reports and the contents of CCs assessed by guided questions, do not exactly coincide. Moreover, a structural equation model supports results of previous research about the determinants of FBM and reveals that FBM facilitates the recall of more consistent explicitly requested CCs’ contents. Theoretical implications concerning the qualitative contents of FBMs and the debate about their consistency are discussed.

Flashbulb memory: referring back to Brown and Kulik’s definition

Muzzulini B.
First
;
Tinti C.;Testa S.;Schmidt S.
Last
2020-01-01

Abstract

Since Brown and Kulik’s (1977. Flashbulb memories. Cognition, 5, 73–99. http://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(77)90018-X) seminal work, a central issue in memory literature is whether flashbulb memories (FBMs) hold a special status within autobiographical recalls. To address this issue, we refer back to Brown and Kulik’s definition of FBM as a snapshot of the reception context of an important public news and propose a method to identify the contents of this snapshot. Although Brown and Kulik found that the majority of FBM’s contents could be classified within six canonical categories (CCs), here we claim that assessing the presence of FBMs through guided CCs’ questions – as done by most researchers in this field – can be misleading. We suggest, instead, to use free recall reports to identify the consistent perceptual elements of the snapshot. Across two test-retest studies, we show that the contents of FBMs assessed by free reports and the contents of CCs assessed by guided questions, do not exactly coincide. Moreover, a structural equation model supports results of previous research about the determinants of FBM and reveals that FBM facilitates the recall of more consistent explicitly requested CCs’ contents. Theoretical implications concerning the qualitative contents of FBMs and the debate about their consistency are discussed.
2020
766
782
https://doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2020.1778035
Autobiographical memory, flashbulb memory, perceptual recall, canonical categories, public event
Muzzulini, B., Tinti, C., Conway, M., Testa, S., Schmidt, S.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1741755
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