Description: Flashbulb memories are highly vivid and long-lasting memories for events that are emotionally significant and personally important. These memories are held in very high confidence in accuracy over an extended period. In particular, individuals believe that they can remember the personal details surrounding the event such as where they were and what they were doing at the time the event occurred. Evidence from research, however, indicates that this may not be the case. The study of flashbulb memories has typically been confined to negative events such as September 11, 2001. In the current study, we employ the methods of Talarico and Rubin (2003) to investigate flashbulb memory formation to a positive event. The event is the assassination of Osama bin Laden, which resonated as a highly positive event for many Americans evidenced by the thousands of people flooding the streets of Washington, D.C. and New York City to celebrate. We examined various memory properties over a one-year period, including vividness, rehearsal, belief in accuracy, and consistency. Results confirm the formation of flashbulb memories to the assassination event, but results did not support many of the proposed hypotheses. Some differences were found for different testing groups (i.e., immediate versus one week delay), but these were not replicated at the one year follow-up. Overall, however, it is believed that the current event, while still a flashbulb memory, was not a strong enough event to stir strong emotions and form memories on par with 9/11.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Kraha, Amanda