Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Characteristics of personally important episodic memories, counterfactual thoughts, and future projections across age and culture

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DOI

We have limited knowledge as to whether the phenomenological differences between episodic memories, counterfactuals, and future projections show the same pattern across age groups and diverse samples. Here we compared the characteristics of these mental events, reported by younger and older participants in a Turkish (Study 1) and in an American sample (Study 2). In both studies, memories contained more sensory-perceptual-spatial details, were easier to bring to mind, and more specific. Future projections were the most positive, whereas counterfactuals were the least emotionally intense. In Study 1, older participants rated the events more positively and experienced them with more perceptual detail, whereas younger participants reported the future to be more voluntarily rehearsed, important, and central. These age differences did not replicate in Study 2. Overall, phenomenological differences between the events are robust and replicate across diverse samples. However, age differences are more sensitive to cultural or individual differences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Volume34
Issue5
Pages (from-to)1020-1033
Number of pages14
ISSN0888-4080
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

    Research areas

  • aging, episodic counterfactual thinking, episodic memory, future thinking, past/future, phenomenology, AMAZONS MECHANICAL TURK, SELF-ENHANCEMENT, INVOLUNTARY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORIES, past, OLDER-ADULTS, EMOTIONAL INTENSITY, LIFE STORY, SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE, PERCEIVED FUNCTIONS, TRAUMATIC EVENTS, future, PHENOMENAL CHARACTERISTICS

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