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Object specificity and personal relevance in long-term visual remembering

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2012
Number of pages19
Early online date21/09/12
Original languageEnglish


The personal relevance of an object is multi-faceted, each facet being capable of contributing to the effects on object memory attributed to personal relevance. An object’s status as an individual object (object specificity), rather than just a category of object, is one such facet and its impact on the long-term visual remembering of everyday objects is assessed in two experiments. Images and drawings were produced under generic (e.g., “Please draw a bed”) and personal exemplar (e.g., “Please draw your bed”) instructions, and participants indicated the degree to which the image on which their drawing was based was of a specific object or a generic object. Object specificity induced a sense of time and place for a remembered object, the most recent encounter with the object being most salient. Other aspects of personal relevance collectively facilitated the retrieval of an object’s category-irrelevant features (thereby increasing the vividness of the object image), the other objects with which it was seen, and a more general episodic sense of place. Against a broader theoretical perspective, it is proposed that visual episodic memory and visual knowledge are primary sources of information for specific personally relevant objects and generic objects, respectively.