Vicarious memories.

Academic Article


  • People not only have vivid memories of their own personal experiences, but also vicarious memories of events that happened to other people. To compare the phenomenological and functional qualities of personal and vicarious memories, college students described a specific past event that they had recounted to a parent or friend, and also an event that a friend or parent had recounted to them. Although ratings of memory vividness, emotional intensity, visualization, and physical reactions were higher for personal than for vicarious memories, the overall pattern of ratings was similar. Participants' ratings also indicated that vicarious memories serve many of the same life functions as personal memories, although at lower levels of intensity. The findings suggest that current conceptions of autobiographical memory, which focus on past events that happened directly to the self, should be expanded to include detailed mental representations of specific past events that happened to other people.
  • Authors

  • Pillemer, David
  • Steiner, Kristina L
  • Kuwabara, Kie J
  • Thomsen, Dorthe Kirkegaard
  • Svob, Connie
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2015
  • Published In


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Episodic memory
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory functions
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents
  • Personal Narratives as Topic
  • Vicarious trauma
  • Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26172521
  • Start Page

  • 233
  • End Page

  • 245
  • Volume

  • 36