Not all memories are created equal. Our memories for some very exceptional events seem to stand out in our minds, and as such they may form the very core of who we are. Perhaps you have a vivid recollection of a fateful day, an unforgettable face, or a hilarious joke. This book summarizes theories and data that provide insight into these extraordinary memories for exceptional events. The book begins with a classification scheme for exceptional events, followed by a theoretical overview grounded in four metaphors of memory. The classification scheme and theoretical perspectives are used to explore topics including: flashbulb memories, the influence of emotion on memory, the bizarre imagery effect, the humor effect, the serial position effect, and the isolation effect. The conclusion provides a framework for understanding these outstanding memories for exceptional events.
Table of Contents
1. What are Extraordinary Memories and Exceptional Events? 2. Metaphors and Foundations. 3. Flashbulb Memories. 4. Emotional Significance: Laboratory Studies. 5. Secondary Distinctiveness: Memory for the Bizarre and Unusual. 6. Primary Distinctiveness: Escape from Monotony. 7. Summary and Conclusions: What Supports Outstanding Memories? References. Author Index. Subject Index.
Stephen R. Schmidt received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1980. He was an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech before joining the Psychology Department at Middle Tennessee State University. He was promoted to Associate Professor at MTSU in 1991, and Full Professor in 1996. He has served as coordinator of the Experimental Psychology M.A. program at MTSU since 1996.
Professor Schmidt has authored numerous publications in the top journals of his field, including: Child Development, Cognition & Emotion, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, Memory, and Memory and Cognition. He has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences and has presented over 50 convention papers. His 1991 article concerning the impact of distinctiveness on memory has become a standard reference in the field, and he is considered one of a handful of experts on distinctiveness. He is also considered one of the few experts in the effects of humor on memory.
"A welcome contribution to the memory literature." - Robert L. Greene, Case Western Reserve University, US, in PsycCRITIQUES
"This book's well-developed arguments, critical analysis of empirical evidence and consideration of research methodology mean it is invaluable for those involved in memory research. It is also likely to be of interest to under- and post-graduate students who are interested in taking a broad perspective of how memory operates on biological, cognitive, personal, social and cultural levels. Schmidt's engaging, entertaining and accessible written style, often featuring personal insights, means this book will also appeal to non-subject specialists who might be interested in topics such as flashbulb memory." - Victoria Wright, Aberystwyth University, UK, in Europe's Journal of Psychology
"The writing is lively and engaging and would appeal to memory researchers in general and particularly those interested in the memory effects of emotion, salience, difference, and distinctiveness. This book would also be a nice text for an upper level undergraduate seminar or a graduate seminar on this topic. I could easily envision a graduate course in which students would read empirical articles on distinctiveness and emotion in memory and use this book as the basic textbook to help bring together the many theories and findings in these areas." - Lisa Geraci, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, USA
"This is an excellent overview of the emotional memory literature. It is quite engaging to read [. . . ] I was impressed by the accuracy and thoughtfulness with which complex issues within the literature were presented." -Mara Mather, Ph.D., University of Southern California, USA
"I applaud the idea of a book discussing everyday exceptional memory. Too often memory is treated as fragile and capricious when in fact the power of normal healthy memory is critical to survival. Most books about exceptional memory are either concerned with mnemonics or savants. Thus, this book is a welcome new addition to the vast library of books we have on memory." - Reed Hunt, Ph.D., University of Texas at San Antonio, USA
"This most recent volume in the "Essays in Cognitive Psychology" series continues the tradition of providing brief but detailed summaries of an individual's extensive research into a topic, in this case memory for exceptional events. Exceptional events include the obvious choice of flashbulb memories for traumatic events such as 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination, but also the bizarreness effect, emotion and memory, the role of humor, and various forms of perceptual distinctiveness. This a meticulously researched volume... Summing Up: Recommended." - K. S. Milar, Earlham College, CHOICE