Describe Flashbulb Memories (FBM) as studied by William Hirst et al.
Consistency of FBM
- 3000 participants from different locations in the US were given questionnaires to assess their reception of the 9/11 events (e.g. who was with you? where were you? what were you doing?, FBM and the facts about the event itself (how many planes? what airlines were they? etc.).
- The questionnaires were administered at 1 week (S1), 1 year (S2), and 3 years (S3) after the 9/11 events.
- Retention of FBM: Retention was generally good after 3 years.
across the 3 different testing times was not influenced by emotion, personal loss/inconvenience, residency, media attention, or conversations with other people. That is, people were not more consistent in their recall if they were directly impacted by the events.
of their memory for the 9/11 attacks (Event Memory) was influenced by several factors: Residency (better if lived in NYC), personal loss/inconvenience, Media Attention and Conversation with other people. Such people were more likely to be accurate in their reports. However, they were not accurate in reporting their memory for the emotions felt during the 9/11 attacks.
Residents of NYC and people who lost somebody or something after the attack were more accurate in their reports of the 9/11 attacks because they were more likely to follow the media more and to talk more about the events with other people. Thus community memory practices influence the level of accuracy of our memories for traumatic events.