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Memory. 1997 Jul;5(4):509-42.

Indexing events in memory: evidence for index dominance.

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Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


Research on narrative comprehension and autobiographical memory converge on three hypotheses which make different predictions about event organisation. The availability of different event components as indexes may explain the convergence on three hypotheses rather than one. In this paper, three experiments assessed event indexing in narratives with different available indexes. In Experiment 1, participants read event descriptions organised by character or time. In Experiment 2, event descriptions were organised by character or location. In Experiment 3, participants read event descriptions where events were grouped by activity. In each experiment, memory could be organised by any of the available components alone, by both components, or by using the organisation imposed by the discourse. Participants indexed events by character in Experiment 1, re-indexing information when necessary. Results of Experiment 2 indicated equal use of character and location indexes. In this case, participants used the discourse organisation. In Experiment 3, participants indexed events using activity groupings, again re-indexing events when necessary. Results are interpreted as indicating reliance on a single organising index with flexibility in the selection of different event components as indexes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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