Emotionally charged autobiographical memories across the life span: the recall of happy, sad, traumatic, and involuntary memories.

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2002-12

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Abstract

A sample of 1,241 respondents between 20 and 93 years old were asked their age in their happiest, saddest, most traumatic, most important memory, and most recent involuntary memory. For older respondents, there was a clear bump in the 20s for the most important and happiest memories. In contrast, saddest and most traumatic memories showed a monotonically decreasing retention function. Happy involuntary memories were over twice as common as unhappy ones, and only happy involuntary memories showed a bump in the 20s. Life scripts favoring positive events in young adulthood can account for the findings. Standard accounts of the bump need to be modified, for example, by repression or reduced rehearsal of negative events due to life change or social censure.

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10.1037//0882-7974.17.4.636

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Berntsen, Dorthe, and David C Rubin (2002). Emotionally charged autobiographical memories across the life span: the recall of happy, sad, traumatic, and involuntary memories. Psychology and aging, 17(4). pp. 636–652. 10.1037//0882-7974.17.4.636 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19013.

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Rubin

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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