Confidence, not consistency, characterizes flashbulb memories.

Journal Article

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rubin, DC; Talarico, JM

Published Date

  • September 2003

PubMed ID

  • 12930476

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12930476

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1467-9280.02453