, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 519-528

Phenomenal characteristics of guided imagery, natural imagery, and autobiographical memories


Research indicates that guided imagery experiences can be mistaken for actual experiences under some circumstances. One explanation for such effects is that memory representations of guided imagery and actual events contain similar phenomenal characteristics such as sensory and contextual details, making the source of the events less distinguishable. This study examined this prediction, comparing memory characteristic ratings for guided imagery experiences with those for memories of perceived and natural imagery events (e.g., fantasies). Results replicated previous findings for the difference between perceived and natural imagery memories. Guided imagery ratings were also lower than those for perceived memories for most sensory details (sound, smell, and taste) and temporal details. However, guided imagery ratings for reflective details were lower than both perceived and natural imagery memory ratings. Thus, guided imagery was similar to natural imagery with respect to sensory details, but similar to perceived memories with respect to reflective details.

This work was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to K.D.A.