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The role of belief in occurrence within autobiographical memory

Scoboria, Alan; Jackson, Dennis L.; Talarico, Jennifer; Hanczakowski, Maciej; Wysman, Lauren; Mazzoni, Giuliana


Alan Scoboria

Dennis L. Jackson

Jennifer Talarico

Maciej Hanczakowski

Lauren Wysman

Giuliana Mazzoni


This article examines the idea that believing that events occurred in the past is a non-memorial decision that reflects underlying processes that are distinct from recollecting events. Research on autobiographical memory has often focused on events that are both believed to have occurred and remembered, thus tending to overlook the distinction between autobiographical belief and recollection. Studying event representations such as false memories, believed-not-remembered events, and non-believed memories shows the influence of non-memorial processes on evaluations of occurrence. Believing that an event occurred and recollecting an event may be more strongly dissociated than previously stated. The relative independence of these constructs was examined in 2 studies. In Study 1, multiple events were cued, and then each was rated on autobiographical belief, recollection, and other memory characteristics. In Study 2, participants described a nonbelieved memory, a believed memory, and a believed-not-remembered event, and they made similar ratings. In both studies, structural equation modeling techniques revealed distinct belief and recollection latent variables. Modeling the predictors of these factors revealed a double dissociation: Perceptual, re-experiencing, and emotional features predicted recollection and not belief, whereas event plausibility strongly predicted belief and weakly predicted recollection. The results show that judgments of autobiographical belief and recollection are distinct, that each is influenced by different sources of information and processes, and that the strength of their relationship varies depending on the type of event under study. The concept of autobiographical belief is elaborated, and implications of the findings are discussed in relation to decision making about events, social influence on memory, metacognition, and recognition processes.


Scoboria, A., Jackson, D. L., Talarico, J., Hanczakowski, M., Wysman, L., & Mazzoni, G. (2014). The role of belief in occurrence within autobiographical memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(3), 1242-1258.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 25, 2013
Publication Date 2014-06
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 14, 2016
Journal Journal of experimental psychology : general
Print ISSN 0096-3445
Electronic ISSN 0096-3445
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 143
Issue 3
Pages 1242-1258
Keywords Autobiographical memory; Retention; Dual process models; Decision making
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. (Supplemental)


Article.pdf (334 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2014 American Psychological Association

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