Categoric and Extended Autobiographical Memories

J. Mark, G. Williams, Barbara H. Dritschel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When people recall specific events in response to word cues, they often give overgeneral memories. These are either “categoric” (e.g., “Times I have fallen downstairs”) or “extended” memories (e.g., “The years I spent in Oxford”). Three studies showed that these two types of overgenerality were functionally independent of each other. Categoric memories were more likely to arise from deficient operation of the Supervisory Attentional System which normally formulates intermediate descriptions for searching memory. Extended memories were more likely to be given in response to emotional cues, and to be older and more unique, suggesting that they arise from a search for distinctiveness. Consistent with these distinctions, a study of depressed suicidal people showed that their greater overgenerality was wholely due to an excess of categoric memories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheoretical Perspectives on Autobiographical Memory
EditorsMartin A. Conway, David C. Rubin, Hans Spinnler, Willem A. Wagenaar
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-94-015-7967-4
Publication statusPublished - 1992


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