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Distinctiveness in flashbulb memory: Comparative analysis of five terrorist attacks

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The purpose of the present study was to find out whether a series of terrorist attacks, which share some common features, elicit flashbulb memories (of the personal circumstances in which the person first learned about these events) that are usually elicited by a single, unexpected, surprising, and personally important event. A total of 131 participants answered questions regarding details of five terrorist attacks that had taken place in Israel during the years 1995-1997. In addition, they assessed, for each of the five events, the number of overt rehearsals, and the degrees of emotional intensity, surprise, novelty, personal importance, and distinctiveness. Data analyses showed that most variables that are usually associated with the formation of flashbulb memories were also found in memories of the terrorist attacks that were judged by the participants as being distinctive. Distinctiveness may therefore be considered an important factor in the formation of flashbulb memories.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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