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Metamemory knowledge and the accuracy of flashbulb memories

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This study sought to answer the question whether providing participants with extensive knowledge about autobiographical memory would influence their personal recollections. It was hypothesised that the knowledge of the reconstructive nature of memory, inevitable changes in autobiographical memories, and their vulnerability to mistakes and illusions would make individuals set more stringent criteria of metacognitive processes and, as a consequence, would make them more accurate in their memory accounts. Psychology students at the Jagiellonian University recalled the circumstances of hearing about the 11 September terrorist attack on the United States three times, i.e., within 21 days of the attack, in January 2002, and finally in June 2002. In the meantime, half of the students participated in an intensive 30-hour course on autobiographical memory. These participants, after the course, were more accurate in their recollections, and, at the same time, less confident that their descriptions were veridical than were controls. The results are explained in terms of differences in metamemory monitoring effectiveness.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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