, Volume 36, Issue 8, pp 1403-1414

Self-centered memories: The reminiscence bump and the self

Abstract

The self-memory relationship is thought to be bidirectional, in such a way that memories provide context for the self, and equally, the self exercises control over retrieval (Conway, 2005). Autobiographical memories are not distributed equally across the life span; instead, memories peak between ages 10 and 30. This reminiscence bump has been suggested to support the emergence of a stable and enduring self. In the present study, the relationship between memory accessibility and self was explored with a novel methodology that used generation of self images in the form of I am statements. Memories generated from I am cues clustered around the time of emergence for that particular self image. We argue that, when a new self-image is formed, it is associated with the encoding of memories that are relevant to that self and that remain highly accessible to the rememberer later in life. This study offers a new methodology for academics and clinicians interested in the relationship between memory and identity.

Preparation of this article was supported by an ESRC 113 studentship (PTA-031-2005-00309) to C.J.R. and has benefited from discussion at an ESRC Franco-British Collaborative Workshop held by C.J.A.M. (RES-170-25-0008).