Vivid memories of emotional events: The accuracy of remembered minutiae
It has been claimed that emotional arousal causes a narrowing of attention, and, therefore, impoverished memory encoding. On this view, if details of an emotional event are reported subsequently, these details must be after-the-fact reconstructions that are open to error. Our study challenges these claims. Using a long-term (2-week), incidental learning procedure, wefound that emotion promotes memory both for information central to an event and for peripheral detail. This contrasts with the results of explicit instructions to remember or to attend closely to the event, both of which seem to promote memory for the event’s gist at the expense of detail. The likely mechanisms underlying these effects are discussed.
- Bartlett, F. C. (1932).Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambndge, England: Cambridge University Press.
- Bohlin, G., &Graham, F. K. (1977). Cardiac deceleration and reflex blink facilitation.Psychophysiology,14, 423–430. CrossRef
- Brown, R., &Kuuk, J. (1977). Flashbulb memories.Cognition,5, 73–99. CrossRef
- Bruner, J., Matter, J., &Papanek, M. (1955). Breadth of learning as a function of drive level and mechanization.Psychological Review,42, 1–10. CrossRef
- Christianson, S. A. (1984). The relationship between induced emotional arousal and amnesia.Scandinavian Journal of Psychology,25, 147–160. CrossRef
- Christianson, S-A., &Lorrus, E. F. (1987). Memory for traumatic events.Applied Cognitive Psychology,1, 225–239. CrossRef
- Christianson, S. A., Loftus, E. F., & Nisson, L. (1987, November).Memory for emotional events. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Seattle, WA.
- Clark, M. S., Milberg, S., &Ross, J. (1983). Arousal cues arousalrelated material in memory: Implications for understanding effects of mood on memory.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,22, 633–649. CrossRef
- Easterbrook, J. (1959). The effect of emotion on cue utilization and the organization of behavior.Psychological Review,66, 183–201. CrossRef
- Eysenck, M. (1982).Attention and arousal: Cognition andperformance. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
- Gold, P. (1987). Sweet memories.American Scientist,75, 151–155.
- Graham, F. K. (1979). Distinguishing among orienting, defense and startle reflexes. In H. D. Kimmel, E. H. van Olst, & J. G. Ortebeke (Eds.),The orienting reflex in humans (pp. 137–167). Hiltsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Kahneman, D. (1973).Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Kleinsmith, L., &Kaplan, S. (1963). Paired associate teaming as a function of arousal and interpolated interval.Journal of Experimental Psychology,65, 190–193. CrossRef
- Lacey, J., &Lacey, B. (1974). On heart rate responses and behavior: A reply to Elliott.Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,30, 1–18. CrossRef
- Livingston, R. (1967). Brain circuitry relating to complex behavior. In G. Quarton, T. Melnechuck, & F. Schmitt (Eds.),The neurosciences: A study program (pp. 499–514). New York: Rockefeller University Press.
- Lovrus, E. F. (1979).Eyewitness testimony. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Loftus, E. F. (1982). Remembering recent experiences. In L. Cermak (Ed.),Human memory and amnesia (pp. 239–255). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Lovrus, E. F., &Burns, T. (1982). Mental shock can produce retrograde amnesia.Memory & Cognition,10, 318–323.
- Mandler, G. (1975).Mind and emotion. New York: Wiley.
- Marks, D. (1972). Individual differences in the vividness of visual imagery and their effect on function. In P. Sheehan (Ed.),The fanction and nature of imagery (pp. 83–108). New York: Academic Press.
- Mccloskey, M., &Egeth, H. (1983). Eyewitness identification: What can a psychologist tell a jury?American Psychologist,38, 550–563. CrossRef
- McCloskey, M., Wible, C., &Cohen, N. (1988). Is there a special flashbulb-memory mechanism?Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,117, 171–181. CrossRef
- Mehrabian, A. (1977). Individual differences in stimulus screening and arousability.Journal of Personality,45, 237–250. CrossRef
- Minsky, M. (1975). Aframework for representing knowledge. In P. H. Winston (Ed.),The psychology of computer vision (pp. 211–277). New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Neisser, U. (Ed.) (1982).Memory observed: Remembering in natural contexts. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
- Neisser, U. (1986). Remembering Pearl Harbor: Reply to Thompson and Cowan.Cognition,23, 285–286. CrossRef
- Pillemer, D. (1984). Flashbulb memories of the assassination attempt on President Reagan.Cognition,16, 63–80. CrossRef
- Reisberg, D., Heuer, F., Mclean, J., &O’Shaughnessy, M. (1988). The quantity, not the quality, of affect predicts memory vividness.Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society,26, 100–103.
- Rosch, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch & B. B. Lloyd (Eds.),Cognition and categorization (pp. 27–48). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Rubin, D., &Kozin, M. (1984). Vivid memories.Cognition,16, 81–95. CrossRef
- Rubin, D. (1986).Autobiographical memory. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
- Thompson, C., &Cowan, T. (1986). Flashbulb memories: A nicer interpretation of a Neisser recollection.Cognition,22, 199–200. CrossRef
- Vivid memories of emotional events: The accuracy of remembered minutiae
Memory & Cognition
Volume 18, Issue 5 , pp 496-506
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Industry Sectors