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Mem Cognit. 2001 Jan;29(1):127-36.

What happens if you retest autobiographical memory 10 years on?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Burt (1992a, 1992b) reported data on the autobiographical memory of diarists for events that had occurred on average 3.3 years earlier. This paper reports data on 11 of the diarists, who were recontacted after a further 10 years and who agreed to a retest of their memory. Estimates of event date and event duration from the two recall attempts were compared. As predicted, duration estimation was extremely stable and showed no detrimental effects of the additional 10 years of retention interval. Estimation of event date was predicted to show an increase in forward telescoping due to the increased remoteness of the event sample, but, contrary to this prediction, backward telescoping dominated dating errors. A combination of the establishment of a recent boundary and Kemp's (1999) associative model of dating is proposed as an explanation for these results. It is argued that the nature of dating errors may depend on the time of the event's occurrence in the life span and the age of the individual dating the events.

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