Facing the Language-Memory Problem in the Study of Autobiographical Memory

  • Eleonora Bartoli
  • Andrea Smorti
Regular Article


This paper discusses the problem of the role of language in autobiographical memory, that is barely considered in studies on autobiographical memories and narratives. As a matter of fact, most of the current studies on autobiographical memory confounded memory and narrative together. The present paper focuses on two main issues. Firstly, it debates how narratives contribute to the construction of autobiographical memories through self-other communication. Secondly, it reflects on how language and communication should be manipulated in studies about autobiographical memory. This paper is made of three sections: the first section discusses the role of language, particularly in the form of narrative, as a social tool by which autobiographical memories can be organised in a life story; the second section examines previous methods of investigation used in the study of autobiographical memories; finally, the third section proposes different methodological alternatives to overcome the problems emerging from our analysis of literature.


Autobiographical memory Narrative Listener Staged-event Retrieval 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the work of Benedetta Elmi, a psychology student and trainee of our laboratory who preciously contributed to the search of the articles included in the present work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Eleonora Bartoli declares that she has no conflict of interest. Andrea Smorti declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Sciences and PsychologyUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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