The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible

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| Editors: Vlad Petre Glăveanu (Editor-in-Chief)

Constructive Memory

Living reference work entry


Constructive or reconstructive memory describes the process by which we update our memories in light of new experiences, situations, and challenges. Although the literature on the topic is far too vast to cover in a short review, we can identity two broad research approaches to it. One conceives “constructive” as a vice of memory and aims to identity the factors that increase “errors” and “inaccuracies” in memory. In contrast, for the other “constructive” is a virtue in that it is indicative of the creativity and adaptability of memory to meet a changing world and is closely connected to imagination. The former approach tends to employ an experimental methodology, whereas the later tends to study so-called “natural” contexts of remembering. This chapter begins with a reflection on the inherent ambiguity of the past and the dilemmas and possibilities this creates in human life. It proceeds to shed further light on the two meanings of construction through a review of some key studies. This is followed by an explanation of the schema concept, which is widely used in both research approaches. The chapter then explores the long discussed relationship between imagination and memory. It concludes with a look at the intertwining between individual and collective forces in remembering from the perspective of sociocultural psychology.


Schema Imagination Inaccuracy Sociocultural 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Cultural Psychology, Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ramiro Tau
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculté de psychologie et des sciences de l’éducationUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland