, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 195-198
Date: 05 Nov 2013

Some characteristics of people’s traumatic memories


In this study, we examined whether highly emotional events are associated with persistence of memory for both central and peripheral detail, as has been claimed elsewhere in the literature (e.g., Yuille & Cutshall, 1989). A total of 437 subjects in two experiments were asked to report their “most traumatic memory” and to answer questions about their chosen memory. A major finding was a significant relationship between rated degree of emotion and the number of central details, but not peripheral details, the subjects believed that they remembered. The implication of this result for the study of emotional memory is discussed.

This research was supported by Grant F. 194/88 from the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences to Sven-Åke Christianson, and by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to Elizabeth Loftus. This research was conducted while the first author was a visiting scholar at the University of Washington, on fellowship awards from the Fulbright Commission and from the Swedish Institute. The authors are indebted to Hunter Hoffman for his help in conducting this research.