A comparison of memories of fiction and autobiographical memories.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

People consume, remember, and discuss not only memories of lived experiences, but also events from works of fiction, such as books, movies, and TV shows. We argue that these memories of fiction represent an important category of event memory, best understood within an autobiographical memory framework. How do fictional events yield psychological realities even when they are known to be invented? We explored this question in three studies by comparing the memory content, phenomenological qualities, and functional roles of naturally occurring personal memories to memories of fiction. In Studies 1 and 2, we characterized the subjective experience of memories of fiction by adapting established measures of autobiographical remembering, such as the Autobiographical Memory Questionnaire (Rubin et al., 2003), Centrality of Event Scale (Berntsen & Rubin, 2006), and items from the Thinking About Life Experiences Scale (Bluck et al., 2005; Pillemer et al., 2015). In Study 3, we investigated similarities and differences in personal memories and memories of fiction for events from childhood or the recent past. In doing so, we observed the impact of a unique property of memories of fiction: their ability to be repeatedly reexperienced in their original form. Taken together, we argue that memories of fiction can be considered similar to other forms of autobiographical remembering and describe a theoretical framework for understanding memories of fiction in the context of other event memories. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yang, BW; Deffler, SA; Marsh, EJ

Published Date

  • May 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 151 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1089 - 1106

PubMed ID

  • 34735187

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-2222

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0096-3445

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/xge0001125


  • eng