Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Denise R. Beike

Committee Member

James Lampinen

Second Committee Member

Scott Eidelman

Abstract

The present study was designed to address whether recalling specific autobiographical memories is more difficult when they are self-relevant compared to non-relevant. In recent years, a number of experimental studies have indicated that self-relevant memories are more likely to be recalled without a specific time frame or very much detail. Unfortunately, these findings have not been integrated into the popular executive resources theory of autobiographical memory recall or theories of independent semantic and episodic memory stores. This study tested the hypothesis that self-relevant memories will be accessed in the semantic store and therefore will require more executive resources to generate a final specific memory. Contrary to predictions, results demonstrated that participants with low pre-existing executive resources used more executive resources when recalling non-relevant memories compared to self-relevant memories. The unexpected pattern of results suggest that either self-relevance acted much like the self-reference effect and made recall easier or that the instructions in the non-relevant condition may have been differentially difficult.

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