Memory & Cognition

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 577–587

Directed forgetting of autobiographical events


DOI: 10.3758/BF03195325

Cite this article as:
Joslyn, S.L. & Oakes, M.A. Mem Cogn (2005) 33: 577. doi:10.3758/BF03195325


Two diary experiments demonstrated directed forgetting (DF) of autobiographical events, previously observed only for less complex memory items. Using a 2-week diary paradigm, we compared recall between a group of participants who were directed to forget Week 1 memories (forget group) and a group who did not receive a forget instruction (remember group). In Experiment 1, the forget group remembered fewer items from Week 1 than did the remember group. The effect was observed for negative and positive valence events, as well as for high and low emotional intensity events. The effect was replicated in Experiment 2 despite a memorable holiday (Valentine’s Day) that occurred during the manipulation week. Forget participants remembered fewer low emotional intensity items in Experiment 2. We conclude that intentional forgetting is a plausible explanation for the loss of some autobiographical memories.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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