The Japanese Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Online ISSN : 2185-0321
Print ISSN : 1348-7264
ISSN-L : 1348-7264
Research Report
The characteristics of involuntary autobiographical memories cued by odor: A diary study of the Proust phenomenon
Kohsuke YAMAMOTO
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2008 Volume 6 Issue 1 Pages 65-73

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Abstract

This study investigates the “Proust phenomenon”——the involuntary evoking of autobiographical memories due to odor cues—— with the diary method. Thirty participants were asked to record the contents of such memories and the circumstances surrounding their occurrence for a period of month. The results indicated that most of these memories were old, positive, emotional, specific in nature, and associated with stronger feeling of being brought back in time. Moreover, most of the odor cues were positive, of high emotional arousal, and easily named. Analyses of the circumstances suggest that it is unusual for the situational activities to serve as subsidiary cues. Furthermore, mood-congruent recall was observed. These findings suggest that the emotions aroused by odor cues can influence the occurrence of the Proust phenomenon.

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© 2008 The Japanese Society for Cognitive Psychology
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