Shaping our personal past: Assessing the phenomenology of autobiographical memory and its association with object and spatial imagery

Scand J Psychol. 2020 Oct;61(5):599-606. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12639. Epub 2020 Apr 4.


A new instrument has been developed that allows a comprehensive assessment of the relevant dimensions of the phenomenology of autobiographical memories (Assessment of the Phenomenology of Autobiographical Memory, APAM), and their association with visual object and spatial imagery has been examined. An initial version of APAM consisting of 30 items (the first 28 measured on a seven-point Likert-type scale) was developed and administered to a sample of 138 undergraduates. To test whether each item consistently measured the same dimension across different memories, all questions were rated for 12 cues. Results showed that 25 Likert-type items possessed adequate levels of internal consistency and unidimensionality across cues. We also found that higher levels of visual object imagery were associated with more sensory details and recollective qualities of memory, and with stronger experience of sensory and emotional reliving. The theoretical and practical usefulness of APAM as well as the relevance of visual object imagery in the phenomenology of autobiographical memory are discussed.

Keywords: Autobiographical memory; individual differences; mental imagery; phenomenology; visual object imagery; visual spatial imagery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Individuality
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Spatial Processing
  • Visual Perception