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Abstract

A number of large-scale surveys have shown that many adults, particularly university students, believe that traumatic memories can be repressed and then recovered at a later point in time. How do ordinary people like students, most of whom may not have experiences of repression or recovery of traumatic events, come to believe in such phenomenon? Such belief may be associated with daily experiences of forgetting and remembering. We asked 111 undergraduates to rate how likely they would think a person (in daily life) would remember what she/he had completely forgotten, and to write down such experiences, if they had any. Also we asked them to rate 39 statements on memory including repression and recovery of memory, and traumatic memory. Overall, 71% of participants thought that it was likely that one would remember what she/he had completely forgotten; 70% of participants reported that they actually had such experiences. Although most of the episodes that students reported reflected normal forgetting and remembering in daily life, the number of episodes as well as the belief and experience of such forgetting and remembering were correlated with their belief measures on repression and recovery of traumatic memories. Belief and experience of daily memory phenomenon may have something to do with creation and/or maintenance of belief in repressed/recovered memory. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.