PSY270 Lecture 6 + Chapter 8 Note
-Has been defined as recollected events that belong to a person’s past.
When we remember the events that make up the stores of our life by using “mental time
travel” to place ourselves back into specific situation, we are experiencing AM.
-It is memories about ourselves that consists of episodic and semantic memories
ex. your age, 19 birthday = semantic
-One of the factors that determines the relative proportions of episodic and semantic components in
AM is how long ago the event to be remembered occurred.
Memories of recent events that are rich in perceptual details and emotional content are
dominated by episodic memory.
-BUT, episodic memory can fade with time, leaving semantic memory.
-Thus, memories for more distant events become more semantic.
-ex. I vaguely remember how to read, and i have no memory of elementary school
teachers before grade 3. I do however remember the school i went to and where my family lived.
-This demonstrates that AM can be defined as episodic memory for events in our lives plus personal
semantic memories of facts about our lives.
-Additionally, AM are multidimensional because they consist of spatial, emotional, and sensory
-Memories of life events tends to peak in adolescence or early adulthood. – this is known as the
Reminiscence bump is observed for semantic memory too and self reported important world
events (ex. academy award, 9-11..etc.)
The bump is at highest when you are around your 20s.
Why do Autobiographical Memories happen?
-There is three hypotheses, all based on the idea that special life events are happening during
adolescence and young adulthood.
1. Cognitive hypothesis: Memories in early adulthood occur in periods of rapid change followed by
Period of rapid change that are followed by stability cause stronger encoding of memories.
Elaborate and distinct cues likely ***listen
2. Self-image hypothesis: Formation of personal identity strengthens memories for the time period
Rathborne and coworker proposed that memory is enhanced for events that occur as a
person’s self image or life identity is being formed.
Our personal identities occur in this time period, and everything that happens is associated
with self-defining moments. Ex. Becoming a university student.
3.Cultural life script hypothesis: Memory is improved for positive culturally shared experiences
This explanation distinguishes between a person’s life story, which is all of the events that have occurred in a person’s life, and a cultural life script, which are culturally expected events that occur
at a particular time in the left span
This doesn’t mean that events in a specific person’s life always occur at those times, but
according to the cultural life script hypothesis, events in a person’s life story become easier to
recall when they fit the cultural life script for that person’s cultural
Results in increased elaborative rehearsal
-Everything talks about an important event
Another hypothesis is
-Maturational account : Cognitive processes are at their maximum during period of reminiscence bump.
Potentially helps to attract a mate
-Cognitive processes are at the peak, the best
-Must be appealing, smart, intelligent, good memory.
Explanation Basic Characteristics
Self-image Periods of assuming person`s self image
Cognitive Encoding is better during periods of rapid change
Cultural life scrip Culturally shared expectations structure recall.
-During 9-11, do you remember when you first heard about the attack? How you found out? Where you
were? Your reaction? For me, I remember watching the news in ch 24, and found it while checking the
-But what makes this so special that it’s still in my memory?
According to Brown and Kulik, there is.
-proposed that memories for the circumstances surrounding learning about events such
as 9-11 are special.
-Flashbulb memory refers to memory for the circumstances surrounding how a person heard about an
event, not memory for the event itself.
thus, flashbulb memory for 9-11 would be memory for where you were, and what you were
doing when you found out about the terrorist attack.
-Basically, events that we remember as though we’re there
additionally, remember exactly who we were with, scent, etc. Perfect memory
-Tends to be emotional, and surprising = possible reason for better memory of 9-11
Talarico and Rubin studied flashbulb memories for September 11
Hard to study in lab because you must wait for a significant event to occur
-Second reason that can potentially enhance memory for flashbulb events is added rehearsal.
This is called narrative rehearsal hypothesis Talarico & Rubin (2003)
-Compared memory for 9-11 attacks vs. Everyday events
Flashbulb memory and controlled everyday memory
- 6 weeks later and 32 weeks later.
- They found that accuracy/consistency decreased over time.
- Inconsistencies (things that they made up) increased over time.
- Interestingly, no difference between everyday and flashbulb memory in accuracy.
- Where they did differ was on rating scale. From 1-7, “how vivid is the memory”. Belief is how
accurate do you think these memories are. recollection (ability to bring yourself back there) for
everyday memory decreased over time.
- Diff b/w everyday and flashbulb is not accuracy, but BELIEF that the memory is accurate. Most
believe that accuracy of flashbulb memory is more accurate than everyday.
-The technique of comparing later memories to memories collected immediately after the event is
called repeated recall
Neisser’s Flashbulb Memories
-Neiser argues that if rehearsal is the reason for our memories of significant events, then the “flashbulb”
analogy is misleading>
Remember that the memory we are concern with is the characteristics surrounding how you
first heard about 9-11, but much of the “rehearsal” associated with this event was rehearsal
for events that occurred after hearing about it.
-Shows that flashbulb memories are NOT more accurate than other memories, we just FEEL like they are.
for instance, he remembered Japanese attack on pearl harbor on the radio and at the time, he
was listening to baseball game on radio. This memory has been so clear until he remembered
there are no baseball broadcasts in December.
The Constructive Nature of Memory
-When people report memories for past events, they may not only omit things, but also distort or
change things that happened, and in some cases even report things that never happened at all.
This is called constructive nature of memory: what people report as memories are
constructed by the person based on what actually happened plus additional factors, such as the person’s
knowledge, experiences, and expectations.
-This approach to memory is called constructive because the mind constructs memories
based on a number of sources of information. Schacter’s 7 Sins of Memory
-There are many opportunities for our autobiographical memories to fade or become distorted.
-Problems of omission
1. Transience: “I used to be able to do calculus!”
2. Absent-mindedness: “Where did I put my keys?” – related to attention. If you don’t attend, won’t be
stored in STM or LTM.
3. Blocking aka interference: “The name of that guy who proposed 7 sins of memory is on the tip of my
tongue!” – something is getting in the way
- Problems of commission: (you don’t forget, you misremember)
4. Misattribution: “How could you not know the news? You’re the one who told me.” = you misattribute
where you heard the news (heard it on radio)
5. Suggestibility: “How old were you when you broke the heirloom vase?” (even if you never broke the
6. Bias: “That summer that I had to commute 2 hours to school from home was actually kind of
enjoyable” but you did well in those classes= tendency to match our memories to current situation
7. Persistence: “I wish I hadn’t watched Black Swan. I can’t sleep because it’s all I can think about” ex:
scary movie = you can’t forget
-Retrieval is constructive
-We use of general knowledge and expectations based on past experiences to organize memories
ex. All the memories of prof telling us something is during class.
-Using repeated reproduction, Barlett(1932) was among the first to report the construct nature of
repeated production can be seen in the experiment of recalling the story “the War of the
Repeated production is where participants come back a number of times to try to remember
the story at longer and longer intervals after they first read it. This is similar to the repeated
recall technique used in the flashbulb memory experiment. (Repeated recall)
What made this experiment so unique was due to a phenomenon called source monitoring
where it explains that memories can be influenced by the source of information which is at
the heart of the constructive approach to memory
-Meaning, most participants’ reproduction of the story were shorter than the original
and contained many omission and inaccuracies Source Monitoring
-is the process of determining the origin of our memories, knowledge, or belief.
-misidentifying the source of a memory is called source monitoring error.
It is also called source misattributions because the memory is attributed to the wrong source.
-It provides an example of the constructive nature of memory because when we remember something,
we usually retrieve the memory first(“ I heard about the scene at the harry potter movie”) and then use
a decision process to determine where that memory came from (“it’s either Jason or Edwin, because i
talked to them recently. But its more likely to be Jason because I know he’s gay”)
-Type of source monitoring errors
Cryptomnesia: Unconscious plagiarism of the work of others.
-ex. Making a song but in reality, its under the influence of a different song but you think
you are the source of the song.
Schemas and Scripts
-We can use schemas and scripts to organize our memories based on knowledge and expectations
-Schemas are heuristics that tell us what we should expect
Schema is a person’s knowledge about some aspect of the environment.
-for example, a person’s schema of a post office might include what a post office