The cognitive, emotional, and social impacts of the September 11 attacks: Group differences in memory for the reception context and the determinants of flashbulb memory

Luminet O., Curci A., Marsh E., Wessel I., Constantin T., Gencoz F., ...More

JOURNAL OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol.131, no.3, pp.197-224, 2004 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 131 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Doi Number: 10.3200/genp.131.3.197-224
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.197-224
  • Keywords: emotions, group comparisons, memory, September 11, CONSISTENCY, EXPERIENCE, DISASTER, EVENT, TIME


The authors examined group differences in memories for hearing the news of and reactions to the September 11 attacks in 2001. They measured memory for reception context (immediate memory for the circumstances in which people first heard the news) and 11 predictors of the consistency of memory for reception context over time (flashbulb memory). Shortly after 9/11, a questionnaire was distributed to 3,665 participants in 9 countries. U.S. vs. non-U.S. respondents showed large differences in self-rated importance of the news and in memory for event-related facts. The groups showed moderate differences in background knowledge and emotional-feeling states. Within non-U.S. groups, there were large differences for emotional-feeling states and moderate differences for personal rehearsal, background knowledge, and attitudes toward the United States. The authors discuss the implications of those findings for the study of group differences in memory and for the formation of flashbulb memories.