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Communicating temporal information about autobiographical events

  • Christopher D. B. Burt (a1)


The communication of temporal information about autobiographical events was investigated by asking 39 pairs of adults to describe to each other a remote autobiographical event. Each member of the participant pairs was then asked to date the event which they had described and also to date the event which was described to them. The date when the event narrator stated their event happened was compared with the date when the listener stated the event happened. Four different temporal communication strategies were identified. It was rare for individuals to communicate temporal information by giving a calendar date. Rather, the narrator gave either a life theme or chronological age, as a cue to when the event happened. The listener appears to use these cues in combination with their autobiographical knowledge, and an estimate of the narrator's age to produce a temporal information communication outcome.


Corresponding author

Correspondence addresses: Dr Christopher D. B. Burt, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand. E-mail:


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