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Externalising the autobiographical self: sharing personal memories online facilitated memory retention

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Internet technology provides a new means of recalling and sharing personal memories in the digital age. What is the mnemonic consequence of posting personal memories online? Theories of transactive memory and autobiographical memory would make contrasting predictions. In the present study, college students completed a daily diary for a week, listing at the end of each day all the events that happened to them on that day. They also reported whether they posted any of the events online. Participants received a surprise memory test after the completion of the diary recording and then another test a week later. At both tests, events posted online were significantly more likely than those not posted online to be recalled. It appears that sharing memories online may provide unique opportunities for rehearsal and meaning-making that facilitate memory retention.
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Keywords: Autobiographical self; internet; memory retention; personal memory; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA 2: School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences and Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Publication date: July 3, 2017

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