Journal Banner

Flashbulb memories of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Flashbulb memories refer to the vivid recall of the circumstances of first learning about significant public events. Our paper assesses whether these memories were triggered by the attack on the satirical French newspaper “Charlie Hebdo”. Participants answered a webbased questionnaire that assessed their memory of the circumstances in which they first learned of the attack (i.e., the reception context). The results showed substantial and vivid recall of the reception context. This recall was also associated with fair rehearsal, negative emotional valence, a wide variety of emotional feelings, surprise, novelty, consequentiality and importance. Furthermore, the flashbulb recall was predicted by the international importance of the attack and the number of people with whom discussions were held about it. The international importance seems to play an important role in the formation of flashbulb memories, at least for the Charlie Hebdo attack, due to the international condemnation and solidarity with the victims.

Author(s): Marie-Charlotte Gandolphe, Mohamad El Haj