Externalising the autobiographical self: sharing personal memories online facilitated memory retention

Memory. 2017 Jul;25(6):772-776. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2016.1221115. Epub 2016 Aug 17.


Internet technology provides a new means of recalling and sharing personal memories in the digital age. What is the mnemonic consequence of posting personal memories online? Theories of transactive memory and autobiographical memory would make contrasting predictions. In the present study, college students completed a daily diary for a week, listing at the end of each day all the events that happened to them on that day. They also reported whether they posted any of the events online. Participants received a surprise memory test after the completion of the diary recording and then another test a week later. At both tests, events posted online were significantly more likely than those not posted online to be recalled. It appears that sharing memories online may provide unique opportunities for rehearsal and meaning-making that facilitate memory retention.

Keywords: Autobiographical self; internet; memory retention; personal memory; social media.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Young Adult