Flashbulb Memories

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  • They are a special kind of memory which differ from ordinary memories because they involve an enduring imprint of events surrounding an important incident
  • An individual has a detailed and lasting recollection of the context in which they first heard about a personally important event
  • Examples include the assasination of JFK or 9/11 or Diana's death.
  • Flashbulb memories aren't the events themselves but where you were when you heard about
  • The analogy of flushbulb describes the way we can often remember incidental deatils such as when, where, who, what etc like a gigantic lightbulb has illuminated the scene
  • Another analogy could be like a picture, the image of the event doesn't change in accuracy but it doesn't record every aspect of the scene
  • The key ingredient of all flashbulb memories is that they involve high emotional arousal at around the time of the event. Flashbulb memories can include; death, serious injury, public events such as 9/11.


  • WRIGHT interviewed people's recall on the events surrounding the Hillsborough football disaster 4 years later where 96 Liverpool supporters were cruched to death. 5 months after the accident, the p's only had very vague memories. Wright concluded that most people reconstructed their memories, blending real experiences with other people's accounts of the event.
  • On the other hand, SHEINGOLD AND TENNEY asked p's about personal memories such as the birth of a sibling. Most people had good memories for them when they were told, who told them etc. and these accounts remained the same over a long period of time…


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