Follow-up of a cross-national comparison on flashbulb and event memory for the September 11th attacks

Memory. 2006 Apr;14(3):329-44. doi: 10.1080/09658210500340816.


Flashbulb memories are defined as vivid and long-lasting memories for the reception context of an important public event (Brown & Kulik, 1977). They are supposed to be triggered by both emotional reactions to the original event and rehearsal processes (Brown & Kulik, 1977; Finkenauer, Luminet, Gisle, El-Ahmadi, van der Linden, & Philippot, 1998; Neisser & Harsch, 1992). A test-retest design (21 vs 524 days after the event on average) was employed to assess flashbulb memory and event memory for the September 11th attacks and the impact of their emotional and rehearsal predictors in a sample of 985 respondents coming from six countries (i.e., Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Japan, and the USA). Results showed that national membership had a significant impact on event memory, and the emotional and rehearsal variables, but flashbulb memories for the September 11th attacks were found to be high and consistent across different countries. The implications of these findings for the debate about the nature and maintenance of flashbulb memories are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Emotions
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Mental Recall*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking
  • United States