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Reflecting on how we remember the personal past: missing components in the study of memory appraisal and theoretical implications

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The current paper offers a selective review of the study of memory appraisal, focusing on recollections of the personal past, with the goal to bring attention to a missing component in this study. To date, memory appraisal studies have concentrated on participants’ assessments of the content of their personal recollections (e.g., their perceptual detail and story-like feel), including beliefs about the accuracy of that content. Participants’ assessments of reflection processes accompanying their recollections (e.g., a sense of piecing-together recollection fragments) have yet to be extensively examined. The lack of information on process-based appraisals is related to prior studies’ procedural constraints (e.g., kinds of cue prompts and their timing, minimal opportunities for reflection). Reasons for addressing this missing component provide the central themes of the paper. The reasons emerge from the analysis of autobiographical cueing studies, including integration of narrative research studies and autobiographical works. The analysis leads to suggestions for future research involving the use of personal narratives that are intended to address critiques of reconstruction accounts and unresolved questions in the study of memory appraisal.
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Keywords: Memory appraisal; autobiographical memory; memory reconstruction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

Publication date: May 28, 2018

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