Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

The frequency of involuntary autobiographical memories and future thoughts in relation to daydreaming, emotional distress, and age

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We introduce a new scale, the Involuntary Autobiographical Memory Inventory (IAMI), for measuring the frequency of involuntary autobiographical memories and involuntary future thoughts. Using the scale in relation to other psychometric and demographic 'measures provided three important, novel findings. First, the frequency of involuntary and voluntary memories and future thoughts are similarly related to general measures of emotional distress. This challenges the idea that the involuntary mode is uniquely associated with emotional distress. Second, the frequency of involuntary autobiographical remembering does not decline with age, whereas measures of daydreaming, suppression of unwanted thoughts and dissociative experiences all do. Thus, involuntary autobiographical remembering relates differently to aging than daydreaming and other forms of spontaneous and uncontrollable thoughts. Third, unlike involuntary autobiographical remembering, the frequency of future thoughts does decrease with age. This finding underscores the need for examining past and future mental time travel in relation to aging and life span development. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume36
Pages (from-to)352-372
Number of pages21
ISSN1053-8100
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

    Research areas

  • Involuntary autobiographical memories, Episodic future thinking, Daydreaming, Aging, Emotional distress, POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER, LIFE-SPAN, EPISODIC MEMORIES, VOLUNTARY, MIND, SUPPRESSION, SYMPTOMS, EVENTS, CONSCIOUSNESS, PERSONALITY

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