Revising the Flashbulb Memory Hypothesis
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Revising the Flashbulb Memory Hypothesis book
The evidence for the existence of highly detailed, vivid and durable memories, FMs, is both extensive and compelling. The studies reviewed in Chapter 3 found FMs to be basically accurate and the findings considered in Chapter 4 strongly implicated the role ofaffect in the formation of FMs. Other findings, however, identified personal importance as the more critical factor in FM encoding. In contrast, rehearsal was rarely found to be associated with FMs. Moreover, a review ofneuropsychological research suggested that there may, indeed, be isolatable brain processes that mediate the encoding of emotional memories. On balance, then, the findings would appear to favour, in broad outline, Brown and Kulik's (1977) model ofFM formation-the flashbulb memory hypothesis (FMH) outlined in Chapter 1. Nevertheless, and despite this body of evidence, the FMH suffers from a number of shortcomings, the most pressing of which is the high level of generality of central theoretical concepts such as "personal consequentiality" and "emotion". Also, the proposed function of FMs, to preserve knowledge of events of biological significance, appears rather limited as an account of the full range of FMs considered in the preceding chapters. In this final chapter, FMH concepts are linked to recent theoretical developments and the wider functions ofFMs are explored. But first I turn to a general account of the nature ofFMs and their correlates.