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Flashbulb Memory

By | March 2013
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The aim of this assay is to evaluate how flashbulb memory, a theory of emotion may affect emotion, a cognitive process.

Flashbulb memory was an emotional theory suggested by Brown and Kulik (1977). Brown and Kulik stated that flashbulb memories are vivid and detailed memories of highly emotional events that appear to be recorded in the brain as though with the help from a camera's flash.

Roger Brown and James Kulik (1977) conducted an experiment regarding flashbulb memory on the Kennedy assassination. Participants said their memory of this event was especially clear compared to ordinary events and it was tested that their memory was impressively accurate. Brown and Kulik therefore suggest that memories are extremely vivid and long-lasting for unexpected, emotionally laden, and consequential events such as the Kennedy assassination. 

However, the experiment was conducted years after the event occurred while Brown and Kulik only "assumed" that their recollections were accurate. Moreover, as the experiment was conducted years after the event, participants' memories may be affected by different media such as the television news and the news paper; these extraneous factors may have caused the memory of the event to be accurate. Other similar studies had the same problems and they are not compared to memories of an ordinary event at a different time of the participant's life; therefore, it is difficult to suggest if the memory of the "flashbulb" event is detail and accurate.

Conway et al. (1994) carried out an experiment on flashbulb memory of the news of Margaret Thatcher's resignation. Memories were collected 14 days after the event then recollected after 1 year. Results reported significant high levels of consistency among UK participants. These results supported the theory of flashbulb memory that memories for an important event are vivid and long-lasting. However, criticisms are that as the initial memories were collected 14 days after the event,...

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