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Canonical Categories in Flashbulb Memories


Correspondence to: Ali I. Tekcan, Department of Psychology, Bogazici University, Bebek, 34342 Istanbul, Turkey.



Recall of canonical categories has been widely used to measure flashbulb memory performance. However, these canonical categories are based on a single study and have been inconsistently used in the literature making comparisons across studies potentially problematic. The purpose of the present study was to provide further data toward determining the generality of canonical categories. We asked 135 participants to provide open-ended narratives of how they first learned about three public events, one of which was also a personal event for some of the participants. Results showed that seven categories of information consisting of two new categories (others present and thought) in addition to the five identified by Brown and Kulik (place, informant, activity, own affect, and aftermath) accounted for most of the information in flashbulb memory narratives. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.