Chapter Summary

• Introduction. The views of some everyday memory researchers differ from those of more traditional memory researchers in terms of what should be studied, how memory should be studied, and where memory should be studied. However, the differences between these two groups of researchers have become less in recent years. According to Neisser, everyday memory is purposeful, it has a personal quality about it, and it is influenced by situational demands.

• Autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memory is memory for the events of one's own life. It may be hierarchically organised into lifetime periods, general events, and event-specific knowledge. Amnesic patients are best able to remember lifetime periods and least able to recall event-specific knowledge. The general-event level has been identified as the most important, but this is more so for voluntary than involuntary memories. A disproportionate number of autobiographical memories come from the years between 15 and 25, coinciding with the development of a stable adult self-concept. Infantile amnesia occurs because infants have no sense of self, and slightly older children have still not developed effective learning strategies. Recall is best for autobiographical memories having high levels of salience, emotional involvement, and pleasantness.

• Memorable memories. Information about oneself (the self-reference effect) and about important, dramatic, and surprising public or personal events (flashbulb memories) is generally well remembered. The self-reference effect may occur because the self-construct aids the elaboration and organisation of information. Brown and Kulik (1977) argued that flashbulb memories differ from other memories in their longevity, accuracy, and reliance 00 a special neural mechanism. However, the factors associated with the production of flashbulb memories (e.g., novelty; surprise; personal significance; emotional reactions; rehearsal) are also involved in forming ordinary memories, suggesting that flashbulb memories may not differ substantially from other memories.

• Eyewitness testimony. An eyewitness's memory for an incident is rather fragile, and can easily be distorted by misleading post-event information. Some of the findings on post-event information may reflect the demand characteristics of the situation, bat most probably depend on misinformation acceptance. Techniques have been devised for increasing the amount of information obtained from eyewitnesses. These techniques are based on the assumption that there are various access routes to memory traces, and that it is useful to use several retrieval cues to maximise recall.

• Superior memory ability. Most individuals with superior memory ability have devoted substantial amounts of time to practising specific memory techniques, but others have a "naturally" good memory. Techniques for improving memory usually involve relating the to-be-learned information in a meaningful way to existing knowledge, storing cues for retrieval, and then devoting considerable practice to speeding up the processes involved. Several mnemonic techniques have been developed for specific purposes (e.g., putting names to faces). These techniques are effective, but have limited practical usefulness. However, some techniques (e.g., the keyword method; the SQ3R method) are of more general relevance.

• Prospective memory. Event-based prospective memory tends to be better than time-based prospective memory, because in the former ease the intended actions are more likely to be triggered by external cues. Prospective memory is better for plans that are routine, high in priority, and relevant to a network of plans. Event-based prospective memory involves conceptually driven processes, and depends on attentional processes. The processes involved in time-based prospective memory remain rather mysterious, but partially relevant external cues are sometimes involved.

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