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Individual differences and correlates of highly superior autobiographical memory

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Highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) is a recently identified ability that has been difficult to explain with existing memory science. The present study measured HSAM participants’ and age/gender-matched controls’ on a number of behavioural measures to test three main hypotheses: imaginative absorption, emotional arousal, and sleep. HSAM participants were significantly higher than controls on the dispositions absorption and fantasy proneness. These two dispositions also were associated with a measure of HSAM ability within the hyperthymesia participants. The emotional-arousal hypothesis yielded only weak support. The sleep hypothesis was not supported in terms of quantity, but sleep quality may be a small factor worthy of further research. Other individual differences are also documented using a predominantly exploratory analysis. Speculative pathways describing how the tendencies to absorb and fantasise could lead to enhanced autobiographical memory are discussed.
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Keywords: Absorption; Autobiographical memory; Emotional arousal; Fantasy proneness; HSAM; Hyperthymesia; Sleep

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA

Publication date: August 8, 2016

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