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- Personal, subjective memories that we have of past events and experiences
- These memories include when and where (spatiotemporal knowledge) and factual information
- Marigold Linton (1982) studied her recall of autobiographical memories through a six year diary study. She found that autobiographical memories faded at about 5% per year
- Special type of memory along with semantic, episodic, procedural. Studies across all types complement each other and add to overall understanding.
- A disproportionate number of autobiographical memories are formed between birth and 30-years of age ("reminiscence bump"), perhaps because much of our self-identity develops between these ages
- Brown and Kulik, 1977
- Vivid, stable autobiographical memories that are formed when we hear of a shocking and/or emotional event
- We often remember exactly where we were when we first heard this news.
- More likely to be formed when the news is unexpected or shocking and when it is personally important or meaningful.
- Examples - 9/11, Kennedy
- The detail and durability of flashbulb memories shows that memory can be very accurate
- Flashbulb memories can have cultural significance and bias
Encoding specificity principle
- Endel Tulving, 1975, 1983
- Suggests that cues that exist when we are trying to retrieve a memory can help if they match cues that were present when we encoded the memory.
- We can remember things through different retrieval routes, accessing memories through different associations.
- The more elaborate the encoding process, the more associations the memory has with pre-existing knowledge or memories, hence the more likely it is that some of these will overlap with retrieval cues.
- Recognition tests (where the thing to be recognised is present) provide more retrieval cues than recall tests
- Gives a lot of insight into memory processes and techniques
- Helps police to aid witness recall in investigating crimes, using the police cognitive interview technique
- Episodic memories are a form of long-term memory that include spatiotemporal details (when the event happened and where).
- These may be formed in advance of semantic memories
- Hodges & Graham (1998) found damage to the temporal cortex but not the hippocampus affected semantic memory, not episodic;
- Vargha-Khadem (1997) found damage to the hippocampus but not temporal cortex affected episodic but not semantic.
- Episodic memories differ from semantic memories, which do not have any details of when they were originally acquired or where
- Explains how semantic information such as conceptual categories for animals or plants is acquired
Levels of processing
- Craik and Lockhart (1972) theorised that the deeper the processing we apply to information in the encoding process the longer we can remember it for
- Maintenance rehearsal = shallow structural processing, e.g. learning by rote, coding in terms of sound
- Elaborative rehearsal = deeper semantic processing, working with material to associate it with pre-existing knowledge
- Craik and Tulving (1975) found that the percentage of words learned incidentally increased as participants had to do more thinking about the words.
- Encoding affects how effectively we store information, hence how easy it is to recall, and how long we can remember it for.
- This is a useful technique, especially in education
- Shared memories we create with others through common experiences.
- Elaborated through discussion - they are socially constructed.
- We may even recollect events that took place early on in our lives simply because others have shared these with us.
- The memories may be(come) inaccurate, modified through re-telling.
- An example of this is Jean Piaget’s false kidnapping memory from nanny
- Collective memories are a way of remembering events from a multitude of perspectives.
- Gergen (1999): collective remembering can help to construct and reconstruct national history, e.g. South African Commission for Truth and Equality.
- Miller (2000): collective memories help enforce family identity