We compared young adults’ autobiographical (AB) memories involving Music to memories concerning other specific categories and to Everyday AB memories with no specific cue. In all cases, participants reported both their most vivid memory and another AB memory from approximately the same time. We analyzed responses via quantitative ratings scales on aspects such as vividness and importance, as well as via qualitative thematic coding. In the initial phase, comparison of Music-related to Everyday memories suggested all Musical memories had high emotional and vividness characteristics whereas Everyday memories elicited emotion and other heightened responses only in the “vivid” instruction condition. However, when we added two other specific AB categories (Dining and Holidays) in phase two, the Music memories were no longer unique. We offer these results as a cautionary tale: before concluding that music is special in its relationship to cognition, perception, or emotion, studies should include appropriate control conditions.
Are Musical Autobiographical Memories Special? It Ain’t Necessarily So
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Andrea R. Halpern, Jennifer M. Talarico, Nura Gouda, Victoria J. Williamson; Are Musical Autobiographical Memories Special? It Ain’t Necessarily So. Music Perception 1 June 2018; 35 (5): 561–572. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2018.35.5.561
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