What are Flashbulb Memories? Essay

What are Flashbulb Memories? Essay

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Flashbulb memories are commonly thought of when people look back at a memorable moment in time and remember every detail like it was yesterday. However, research shows us flashbulb memories are not all they appear to be. Flashbulb memories are defined as “memories for the circumstances in which one first learned of a very surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) event” (Winograd, 1983). This suggest in order for a memory to become a flashbulb memory it must be emotionally arousing and surprising. Some researchers believe flashbulb memories are developed after the event. When we attach information which is significant to the event, which is when the event becomes a flashbulb. From there people often think about the event all the time and they constantly are updating their memories (Winograd, 1983). The memories we make, whether they are everyday or flashbulb, are distorted and may be forgotten over time (Davidson, 2005). These memories form in our everyday life but they are not as concrete as one believes.
When someone creates a memory, especially one which is a flashbulb, they generally feel confident in what they remember. The events which are especially full of emotion are often recreated with vividness and confidence (Romeu, 2006). These memories however are no more accurate than an everyday memory (Weaver, 1993). Studies show people will forget flashbulb memories at the same rate as other memories. In a study from 2012, researchers looked at the effects of emotional intensity in regards to memory. The subjects were shown a collection of 60 photographs which contained 20 colored dots in the center of the photograph. After viewing the photographs the participants watched a neutral video for an hour and then were ...


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...motion, 12(4), 834-846. doi:10.1037/a0028003

Romeu, P. F. (2006). Memories of the terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001: A study of the consistency and phenomenal characteristics of flashbulb memories. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 9(1), 52-60. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/274680490?accountid=37813

Tekcan, A. İ., & Peynircioğlu, Z. F. (2002). Effects of age on flashbulb memories. Psychology And Aging, 17(3), 416-422. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.17.3.416

Weaver, C. A. (1993). Do you need a 'flash' to form a flashbulb memory?. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 122(1), 39-46. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.122.1.39

Winograd, E., & Killinger, W. A. (1983). Relating age at encoding in early childhood to adult recall: Development of flashbulb memories. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 112(3), 413-422. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.112.3.413

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