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Poster C35

A day that America will remember: flashbulb memories, collective memories and collective future thoughts of the capitol riots

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Nawel Cheriet1,2,4 (, Meymune Topçu3, William Hirst3, Christine Bastin1,2,4, Adrien Folville1,2,4; 1Liege University, 2GIGA CRC IVI - Cyclotron research center ULiege, 3New School University, 4PsyNCog - Psychology and Cognitive research unit of Liege University

From a cognitive perspective, this study explores the impact of social identity on the inter-subjects similarity of memory representations for the Capitol riots, which happened in Washington on January 6th, 2021. Seventy Belgian and 79 American citizens freely recalled the unfolding events and responded to questions about their recollections and future thoughts. Using a schematic narrative template encompassing the event, causes, and consequences, the analysis revealed that Belgians exhibited significantly greater similarity in representations of the event and its causes compared to their American counterparts. Conversely, Americans demonstrated higher similarity in representations of the consequences. Interestingly, the degree of similarity between Americans’ representations of the consequences correlated with both the media exposure frequency and the number of interpersonal discussions. This hints at the role of cultural artifacts, such as media, in shaping collective representations of the aftermath of the Capitol riots. Notably, Americans reported more flashbulb memories than Belgians. Participants who formed a flashbulb memory for the Capitol Riots believed that the event would be more remembered in the future, advocating for increased governmental efforts to commemorate it, and expressing higher concerns about potential future attacks on the Capitol, compared to participants who did not form flashbulb memory. Together, the findings suggest that the content of memories for a public event exhibits cross-individual similarity influenced by their social identity through culturally specific artifacts. Moreover, future thinking regarding the community is influenced by personal memories of hearing the news of the event.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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April 13–16  |  2024