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Confidence, Not Consistency, Characterizes Flashbulb Memories

Jennifer M. Talarico and David C. Rubin
Psychological Science
Vol. 14, No. 5 (Sep., 2003), pp. 455-461
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40064167
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Confidence, Not Consistency, Characterizes Flashbulb Memories
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Abstract

On September 12, 2001, 54 Duke students recorded their memory of first hearing about the terrorist attacks of September 11 and of a recent everyday event. They were tested again either 1, 6, or 32 weeks later. Consistency for the flashbulb and everyday memories did not differ, in both cases declining over time. However, ratings of vividness, recollection, and belief in the accuracy of memory declined only for everyday memories. Initial visceral emotion ratings correlated with later belief in accuracy, but not consistency, for flashbulb memories. Initial visceral emotion ratings predicted later posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Flashbulb memories are not special in their accuracy, as previously claimed, but only in their perceived accuracy.

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