Episodic and Autobiographical Memory

Experimental Psychology


  1. Elizabeth J. Marsh PhD1,
  2. Henry L. Roediger III PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop204017

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Marsh, E. J. and Roediger, H. L. 2012. Episodic and Autobiographical Memory. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 4:VI:17.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Duke University, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Durham, NC

  2. 2

    Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Psychology, St. Louis, MO

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Episodic memory can be defined as memory for events, with the requirement that one is retrieving information from a specific time and place, whereas autobiographical memory refers to one's personal history, including memory for experienced events as well as personal knowledge. Some researchers have treated these terms as synonyms, writing about “episodic or autobiographical memory.” Although these concepts are related, they refer to distinct psychological constructs and typically have been investigated using different methods. In this chapter we review the prototypical methods used to study both types of memories, and then consider the effects of factors (a) prior to the event or episode to be remembered, (b) during the to-be-remembered event (encoding), (c) occurring in the interval between the event and later testing, and finally (d) operating during the memory retrieval phase. The two research traditions often converge, but we will also review differences between the two. In short, episodic and autobiographical memory are overlapping concepts that nonetheless may differ, with each domain of inquiry making an important contribution to our larger understanding of human memory.


  • episodic memory;
  • autobiographical memory;
  • false memories;
  • encoding;
  • retrieval