The "Relocation Bump" – How Moving House Creates Lasting Memories

Posted on August 1, 2016

Research has firmly established this "reminiscence bump", with various explanatory theories: it contains many unforgettable first times; the young mind is sharper; and we reflect on these early events to reinforce our sense of identity. The trouble is, it’s tricky to disentangle the role played by these different factors because they all co-occur in youth.

To shed new light on the issue, a research team from the University of New Hampshire has pointed their torch elsewhere. They investigated memories originating later in life, and they’ve found that the period between age 40 and 60 contains its own reminiscence bumps, usually formed around major life transitions. This suggests that youth may have the largest trove of memories, but the psychological reasons for this can also play out at other times of life .

The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, asked participants over the age of 65 to recall five memorable experiences they’d had between the ages of 40 and 60 and to identify the most important residential move they had made during this time – 149 participants could provide all this information.

Lead author Karalyn Enz theorised that periods of life involving major transitions – such as moving house – should give rise to a higher density of memories because the transitions give individual events a novel backdrop that means they are laid more firmly in memory, and/or rehearsed more frequently.

Enz’s team calculated that if participants’ memories of life events were distributed across the relevant time period (between the ages 40 to 60), we should expect just 13 per cent of them to fall in the 3-year period around each individual’s residential move, yet significantly more did – on average 1.3 of each participant’s five memorable experiences occurred around their move – 26 per cent, twice what chance would predict.

To read the full article, click the link below.

Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions

Source material from BPS Research Digest

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