Changes in the Subjective Properties of Autobiographical Memories With the Passage of Time

Memory. 1998 Jul;6(4):367-81. doi: 10.1080/741942606.


This study was an investigation of how the subjective properties of autobiographical memories change over time. Over the 25 weeks after Thanksgiving, undergraduates rated the quality of their memories for Thanksgiving dinner on three global scales and six other scales referring to specific kinds of information (conversations, people, food, and clothing). Global ratings declined rapidly in the first 12 weeks but showed little change in the subsequent 12 weeks. The highest ratings and the least decline were found for information that could be reconstructed from general knowledge of Thanksgivings (food and people present). Ratings for non-schematic information showed patterns of decline consistent with previous studies and with humans' ability to discriminate the temporal distances of past events.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Time Factors