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The reminiscence bump is the effect in the temporal distribution of autobiographical memory revealed in research by David Rubin and others that people tend to recall more personal events from adolescence and early adulthood (10-25 years) than personal events from other lifetime periods.
The temporal distribution of autobiographical memory also consists of childhood or infantile amnesia and the recency effect. The first effect is the underrepresentation of personal events from the first few years of life (0-5 years), whereas the second effect is the overrepresentation of recent personal events (last 5 years).
This effect is generally found in the temporal distribution of autobiographical memory of middle and older adults, but also in the temporal distribution of young adults, when corrected for the recency effect, because the recency effect and the reminiscence bump coincide for young adults.
The reminiscence bump can be examined by timeline, free recall, fluency or cued recall. In the first test subjects have to indicate important personal events on a timeline. In the free recall method subjects just talk and give personal events. In a fluency test subjects are given a certain time period (e.g., ten minutes) to recall as many personal events as possible from a certain lifetime period (e.g., when they were between 5 and 10 years). Then, they are given the same time period to recall as many events as possible from another lifetime period (e.g., when they were between 10 and 15 years old). In cued recall tests subjects are asked to describe the personal event that comes to mind first when presented with a cue word. This word can be an object (cat, house, sister) or an emotion (angry, happy). This last method was developed by Francis Galton.
The reminiscence bump is also found in the temporal distribution of memory for public events, favourite books, favourite movies and favourite music records.
Berntsen, D. & Rubin, D. C. (2002). Emotionally Charged Autobiographical Memories Across the Life Span: The Recall of Happy, Sad, Traumatic, and Involuntary Memories. Psychology and Aging, 17, 636–652.
- Human Memory - University of Amsterdam website with autobiographical memory test
- nl:reminiscence bump
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