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A Naturalistic Study of Autobiographical Memories Evoked by Olfactory and Visual Cues: Testing the Proustian Hypothesis

Rachel S. Herz and Jonathan W. Schooler
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 115, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 21-32
DOI: 10.2307/1423672
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1423672
Page Count: 12
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A Naturalistic Study of Autobiographical Memories Evoked by Olfactory and Visual Cues: Testing the Proustian Hypothesis
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Abstract

The emotional and evocative qualities of autobiographical memories evoked by odors and visual cues were compared using a new repeated-measures paradigm in which the sensory cue was presented after the memory had been retrieved by its verbal label. Memory cues were chosen to be able to elicit salient memories. Results revealed that memories recalled in the context of odors were significantly more emotional than those recalled in the context of the same cue presented visually and by the verbal label for the cue. Odor-evoked memories also tended to make participants feel more "brought back" to the original event. This work is the first unequivocal demonstration that naturalistic memories evoked by odors are more emotional than memories evoked by other cues.

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