Sharing autobiographical memories: Effects of arousal and memory

Roberta Lorenzetti, Luisa Lugli


As a wide range of studies in narrative psychology currently attests, the elaboration of personal experiences and identity could be enhanced through the sharing of autobiographical narratives. Our research focuses on the interrelated connection between empathy, emotional valence and memory in autobiographical narrative activity. We analyzed a corpus of dyad-friends’ video-recorded narratives with the intention of exploring how remembering and recalling an autobiographical episode can be influenced by the level of memory sharing (shared vs. non-shared) expressed in the autobiographical narrative and, also, whether the emotional valence of the remembered episode can trigger empathic arousal and short-term or rather long-term memory effects in the listener. Results show that participants seem to focus their attention differently when autobiographical episodes coming from different levels of sharing are narrated. More specifically, results suggest that the listener's personal engagement within a shared speaker's autobiographical narrative influences the recall: the focus of attention is narrowed to the central gist, probably due to the shared knowledge. On the contrary, in a non-shared memory condition, when the listener is called to pay attention to an autobiographical narrative of the speaker for the first time, the focus of attention is wide and concentrated on all narrated details, consequently leading to a less selective and accurate recall.


Autobiographical narrative; Empathy; Emotional Valence; Memory


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Copyright (c) 2017 Roberta Lorenzetti, Luisa Lugli

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896