Memory for emotional events: The accuracy of central and peripheral details


  • Tiziana Lanciano
  • Antonietta Curci


The emotional intensity of an event is a significant predictor for vividness of event memory. Nevertheless, during the last few decades, there has been some confusion in literature as to whether emotional events are poorly or well retained. It is important to consider that not all details of emotional events are equally remembered: Memory for the central details seems to be relatively good, whereas memory for peripheral details appears to be relatively poor. The aim of the present study was to investigate the accuracy of central vs. peripheral details of an emotional event in a natural but controlled context: the emotional event is a simulated life event, the central and peripheral details of the emotional event were controlled. Indeed previous research work was simply based on the induction of an emotional state in an experimental context and subsequent assessment of a performance memory task. Results showed that, following an emotional event, individuals provided a vivid and accurate recollection not only of the central gist of the event, but also of the context and peripheral details. Implications for literature on emotional autobiographical memories were discussed.