Jennifer Talarico writes: It isn’t surprising that many Bostonians have vivid memories of the 2013 Marathon bombing, or that many New Yorkers have very clear memories about where they were and what they were doing on 9/11.
But many individuals who were not onsite for these attacks, or not even in Boston on Apr. 15, 2013 or in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, also have vivid memories of how they learned about these events. Why would people who were not immediately or directly affected have such a long-lasting sense of knowing exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news?
These recollections are called flashbulb memories. In a flashbulb memory, we recall the experience of learning about an event, not the factual details of the event itself.
There might be an advantage to recalling the elements of important events that happen to us or to those close to us, but there appears to be little benefit to recalling our experience hearing this kind of news. So why does learning about a big event create such vivid memories? And just how accurate are flashbulb memories? [Continue reading…]