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Priming involuntary autobiographical memories

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Involuntary autobiographical memories occur frequently in daily life and are usually triggered by cues in one's environment. This study investigated the possibility that priming plays a role in the production of involuntary memories. In Study 1, participants recorded their involuntary memories in a diary for 14 days and then completed a questionnaire assessing their cognitive activity during the recording period. Participants indicating frequent thought about significant others on the questionnaire showed significantly more involuntary memories related to such individuals than a control group. In Studies 2 and 3, participants recorded their involuntary memories in diaries for 14 days and were primed with recall sessions in the laboratory during that period (recalling episodes from high school, Study 1, the past year, or ages 13–16, Studies 2 & 3). The results of both studies showed significant priming effects in the involuntary memories of participants for all of the periods primed. The possibility that priming plays a significant role in the daily production of involuntary memories is discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of New Haven, CT, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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