How did you feel when the Crocodile Hunter died?’: voicing and silencing in conversation

Memory 18 (2):170-184 (2010)
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Conversations about the past can involve voicing and silencing; processes of validation and invalidation that shape recall. In this experiment we examined the products and processes of remembering a significant autobiographical event in conversation with others. Following the death of Australian celebrity Steve Irwin, in an adapted version of the collaborative recall paradigm, 69 participants described and rated their memories for hearing of his death. Participants then completed a free recall phase where they either discussed the event in groups of three or wrote about the event on their own. Finally, participants completed the original questionnaire again, both 1 week and 1 month after the free recall phase. Discussion influenced later memories for hearing of Irwin’s death, particularly memories for emotion and shock. Qualitative analysis of the free recall phase suggested that during conversation a shared understanding of the event developed, but that emotional reactions to the event were silenced in ways that minimised the event’s impact. These findings are discussed in terms of the processes and consequences of sharing public and personal memories in conversation.

Author's Profile

John Sutton
Macquarie University


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