Memory & Cognition

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 127–136

What happens if you retest autobiographical memory 10 years on?


    • University of Canterbury
  • Simon Kemp
    • University of Canterbury
  • Martin Conway
    • University of Bristol

DOI: 10.3758/BF03195747

Cite this article as:
Burt, C.D.B., Kemp, S. & Conway, M. Memory & Cognition (2001) 29: 127. doi:10.3758/BF03195747


Burt (1992a, 1992b) reported data on the autobiographical memory of diarists for events that had occurred on average 3.3 years earlier. This paper reports data on 11 of the diarists, who were recontacted after a further 10 years and who agreed to a retest of their memory. Estimates of event date and event duration from the two recall attempts were compared. As predicted, duration estimation was extremely stable and showed no detrimental effects of the additional 10 years of retention interval. Estimation of event date was predicted to show an increase in forward telescoping due to the increased remoteness of the event sample, but, contrary to this prediction, backward telescoping dominated dating errors. A combination of the establishment of a recent boundary and Kemp’s (1999) associative model of dating is proposed as an explanation for these results. It is argued that the nature of dating errors may depend on the time of the event’s occurrence in the life span and the age of the individual dating the events.

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2001