A tale of three functions: The self-reported uses of autobiographical memory

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Theories hold that autobiographical memory serves several broad functions (directive, self, and social). In the current study, items were derived from the theoretical literature to create the Thinking About Life Experiences (TALE) questionnaire to empirically assess these three functions. Participants (N = 167) completed the TALE. To examine convergent validity, they also rated their overall tendency to think about and to talk about the past and completed the Reminiscence Functions Scale (Webster, 1997). The results lend support to the existence of these theoretical functions, but also offer room for refinements in future thinking about both the breadth and specificity of the functions that autobiographical memory serves.






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Bluck, S, N Alea, T Habermas and DC Rubin (2005). A tale of three functions: The self-reported uses of autobiographical memory. Social Cognition, 23(1). pp. 91–117. 10.1521/soco. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10106.

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David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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