The impact of stress on mothers' memory of a natural disaster

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2006 Sep;12(3):142-54. doi: 10.1037/1076-898X.12.3.142.


The effects of stress on mothers' recall for a major hurricane were studied. Stress was objectively defined as low, moderate, or high according to the severity of home damage. This study of 96 mothers was conducted concurrently with L. E. Bahrick, J. F. Parker, R. Fivush, and M. Levitt (1998), allowing the authors to compare child and adult recall as a function of the same stressor. There was a quadratic relationship between storm severity and total recall for adults, similar to their children. Mothers' recall increased from low to moderate severity, but recall at moderate severity did not differ from high severity. These findings help clarify the effects of stress on the amount and type of information adults recall in retrospective accounts of naturalistic, temporally extended events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires