The degree of disparateness of event details modulates future simulation construction, plausibility, and recall

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2016;69(2):234-42. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1051559. Epub 2015 Jun 15.


Several episodic simulation studies have suggested that the plausibility of future events may be influenced by the disparateness of the details comprising the event. However, no study had directly investigated this idea. In the current study, we designed a novel episodic combination paradigm that varied the disparateness of details through a social sphere manipulation. Participants recalled memory details from three different social spheres. Details were recombined either within spheres or across spheres to create detail sets for which participants imagined future events in a second session. Across-sphere events were rated as significantly less plausible than within-sphere events and were remembered less often. The presented paradigm, which increases control over the disparateness of details in future event simulations, may be useful for future studies concerned with the similarity of the simulations to previous events and its plausibility.

Keywords: Autobiographical memory; Episodic future though; Imagination; Simulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Social Environment*
  • Young Adult