Macquarie University
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Autobiographical memory variability: individual and social factors

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posted on 2022-03-28, 12:03 authored by Marie (Misia) Sophie Temler
In the forensic setting police, lawyers and juries often assume that true memories of the past should not change over time. Contradictions, as well as omissions or new additions, across retellings are often seen as either contamination from others or a sign of deception. In my project I examined how memory accounts change across retellings under a range of conditions. Across a series of four chapters and five experiments I examined and compared the role of social and individual factors in autobiographical memory variation in the absence and presence of contagion. I manipulated aspects of the social interaction and measured different personality and other individual characteristics. I was specifically interested in whether influences from the "self" differed to influences from "others". I aimed to discern baselines and variation thresholds for changes across autobiographical memory retelling among individuals across different social settings. My goal was to better understand the pattern and nature of autobiographical memory variability across retellings and determine how many changes matter. I drew from multidisciplinary research in an attempt to clarify both conceptual and methodological issues about the meaning and the measurement of "contradictions" and other changes in forensic, cognitive and social psychology. This project is significant because it draws on and broadens current theoretical perspectives on memory, as well as considers side by side changes in retellings due to intrinsic variability and changes in retellings due to social contagion.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Autobiographical memory variability in the absence of contagion : written, spoken and typed accounts -- Chapter 3. Social context and personality impact memory recall of unshared personal events over repeated retellings -- Chapter 4. Intrinsic variation and contagion across repeated memory retellings -- Chapter 5. Your words or mine : social contagion changes details in retellings of memories of unshared autobiographical events -- Chapter 6. General discussion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages [277]-306

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Amanda Jane Barnier


Copyright Marie (Misia) Sophie Temler 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (vii, 361 pages)

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