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Memory. 2012;20(2):177-88. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2011.651088.

Type or dimension? A taxometric investigation of flashbulb memories.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.


Flashbulb memories (FBMs) have been defined as vivid and detailed memory of a reception context under which one first heard of a public and unexpected emotional event. One of the issues still open for research on FBMs is to understand whether this latent construct has to be conceptualised as a continuum with other autobiographical memories, or whether it represents a special cluster of memories. This theoretical distinction has some implications for the measurement of the phenomenon, that could be assessed by a dimensional or categorical (taxonic) model. The current study attempted to provide an empirical answer to the problem of FBM measurement, by adopting a taxometric analysis. The main strength of these analyses is to treat taxonic and dimensional models as two competing hypotheses and to evaluate the relative support for each of them. Taxometric analyses were applied to FBM data for the Pope's death, and results supported the taxonic structure of FBMs.

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