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Reporting the Dates of Events: The Role of Prior Knowledge

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In seeking to understand the processes involved when people report temporal information from memory, two general domains have been studied: date generation and duration estimation. Both domains are combined in the present study, which establishes, first, that people have similar expectations as to the usual lengths of the temporal intervals between events, and second, that expectations about intervals affect reconstructions of event dates. Similar expectations for intervals of certain vignettes (e.g. leaving on and returning from a honeymoon) were uncovered in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, subjects read the same vignettes, but the dates used created temporal intervals that were less than, greater than, or equal to, the usual temporal intervals from Experiment 1. Subjects then recalled either one or both of the dates they had read. Results indicated that reported dates were influenced by both the dates presented and expectations based on prior knowledge.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1996

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