Specificity and detail in autobiographical memory retrieval: a multi-site (re)investigation

David J. Hallford, Tom J. Barry, Eline Belmans, Filip Raes, Samantha Dax, Yuki Nishiguchi, Keisuke Takano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


This investigation examined conflicting suggestions regarding the association between problems retrieving specific autobiographical memories and the tendency to retrieve the details of these memories. We also examined whether these tendencies are differentially related to depression symptoms. U.S., Belgian, Hong Kong and Japanese participants retrieved memories related to cue words. Responses were coded for if they referred to a specific event (i.e., an event lasting less than 24 h) and their details (What? Where? Who?). Across sites, and in meta-analyses, the retrieval of more specific memories was associated with retrieval of more details. Memories that were specific included more detail than non-specific memories. Across sites, retrieval of more specific memories and more detail was associated with less severe depression symptoms. Episodic specificity and detailedness are related but separable constructs. Future investigations of autobiographical memory specificity, and methods for alleviating problematic specificity, should consider measures of episodic detailedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • Autobiographical memory
  • depression
  • detailedness
  • episodic detail
  • episodic specificity
  • memory specificity
  • meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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