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Autobiographical memory variability: individual and social factors
thesisposted 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.