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Memory. 1993 Sep;1(3):169-84.

Field and observer modes of remembering.

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Department of Psychology, University of Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Nigro and Neisser (1983) contrasted two ways of remembering personal experiences: the rememberer may 'see' the event from his or her perspective as in normal perception, or 'see' the self engaged in the event as an observer would. Several factors contribute to the determination of perspective, but Nigro and Neisser also reported that many subjects claimed they could change to another perspective at will. We sampled personal memories from several life periods and assessed ability to change the initially reported perspective. Changing was easier for recent or vividly recalled events, harder for older and less vividly recalled events. Memory perspectives may differ in other aspects than their imagery. A second study was conducted to determine whether affective experience is altered when perspectives are changed. The affect experienced decreased when shifting from a field to an observer perspective, but did not change with the converse shift. These studies provide further evidence that remembering is more than retrieval. The information that enters awareness is determined by the information sources in memory and the organisational scheme adopted for recollection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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