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Abstract

Although research converges on the idea that surprise is not essential to form a ‘flashbulb memory’ (FBM), no study has explicitly shown that a FBM that develops from an unexpected event has the same structure as a FBM that develops from an expected event. In the present research, we explored whether there is any substantial difference on veridicality, consistency and confidence in both autobiographical and event memories for surprising and expected events. Two groups of participants were tested for their memories of a surprising (Study I) or an expected (Study II) event at different delays of indexing from the original news. All participants were then re-tested after 6 months and again after 1 year from the first interview. The same patterns of results were found for both events. Consistent with the ‘narrative and rehearsal’ hypothesis, our results provide direct evidence that surprise does not affect the structure of a FBM. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.