Wade Brantley General Psychology Flashbulb Memories Flashbulb memories are benchmarks where personal and public histories intersect. Flashbulb memories can happen to any individual that has a personal experience in which they reach a high level of surprise, therefore causing the event to make a lasting impression on them. Though the event could make a difference in the life of the person, it does not necessarily have to be catastrophic. It could be about your first date or your first kiss for example.
Other determinants for flashbulb memories could be high levels of consequentiality and emotional arousal. When a person’s special biological memory mechanism is triggered by such an event, it creates a permanent record of the details and circumstances surrounding the experience. The uniqueness of an event can be the best predictor of how well it will be recalled later. Accuracy for recall will increase if someone has a distinctive experience during a meaningful event.
People who have personal involvement in an event tend to have greater recall. For example, someone who was at Ground Zero to witness the events of September 11, 2001, will have more vivid memories than someone watching it on the news at home. Personally, I have had several experiences of such significance. One day returning from football practice on a Thursday evening while in high school, I fell asleep at the wheel. I was surprised to wake to the sound of my truck pulverizing a NO PARKING sign on the side of the road.
As I opened my eyes to the sight of the majestic waters of Lake D’Arbonne, I began to panic. My truck left the road on the right side and proceeded towards the water, mowing down a freshly planted crepe myrtle tree before I could get it stopped. These types of events tend to stick out in our minds. The surprise factor first came into play, followed by the thoughts of the consequences. One of these particular consequences being that if I didn’t get my truck stopped that I would soon be in the lake.
To top it off, I had to explain to my parents why my truck was torn up and why it seemed to have grown a crepe myrtle bush from the underside of my passenger fender. Another instance I can recall vividly is the day I killed my first deer. There is nothing like the feeling that surges through a deer hunter’s body when a deer steps out into their shooting lane. You feel surprise, excitement, and anxiety all at the same time. It was definitely a day I will never forget. I was very young, but the memory will forever stay with me.
Sitting in my dad’s lap, holding my gun, I was shaking so bad he couldn’t hold me still. It took me several seconds to stabilize myself before taking the shot. After the shot, seeing the deer lying there, I was indescribably excited. There is nothing like the rush you get at the sight of wild game and the chance to observe them and potentially take one as a trophy. These types of events that touch us and move us tend to stick in our minds for a long time. Their height of excitement and surprise enables us to remember the experiences years down the road.
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