Using Personal Landmark Events Improves Judgments about Time, but not Contents, in Autobiographical Memory


Correspondence to: Stefanie J. Sharman, School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia.



Landmark events are strong memories that function as reference points for other memories. We examined whether people's accuracy in recalling when an earlier target event occurred was related to whether they spontaneously used personal landmark events or not. Participants completed two questionnaires separated by 2-31 days. In the first, they described a personal event including what happened, who was there, where it was, and when it occurred. In the second questionnaire, they recalled the personal event and specific details. They also described whether they had used landmark events to assist their recall. Overall, participants' memories for temporal and content information faded over time. Spontaneous use of landmark events was associated with an increase in participants’ recall of temporal information but not content information. Analysis of the landmark events revealed that almost two-thirds were significant events, such as birthdays, parties, and travel-related events. Applications of the findings are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.