“I Knew It Would Happen ... And I Remember It!”: The Flashbulb Memory for the Death of Pope John Paul II


  • Tiziana Lanciano
  • Antonietta Curci
  • Emanuela Soleti


Flashbulb memory (FBM) has been defined as a vivid and detailed memory for the circumstances under which one first learned of a consequential and emotionally involving event. The present study aimed to assess a FBM for expected events, i.e., the death of Pope John Paul II, across four different religious groups (i.e., Catholic, Orthodox, No Religion, and Other Religion). Furthermore, the study addressed to test the extent to which the FBM features and the emotional and social FBM determinants vary as a function of the importance given to the event within each religious group. Results showed that all participants, regardless of their religious affiliation, exhibited a consistent memory of the details related to the reception context of the expected news. Additionally, the results emphasized the effect of the religious affiliation on the FBM features, and on the variables traditionally associated with FBM. Compared to the other religious groups, Catholic participants exhibited the highest FBM Consistency for the Pope’s death, and they were the most emotionally and socially involved in the event. Implications for the FBM debate are discussed.