The study of flashbulb memories has typically been confined to negative events such as the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Previous studies that investigated the role of affect on memory formation have produced conflicting results, making it difficult to ascertain the properties of positive flashbulb memories. In the current study, we employ previously established methods to investigate flashbulb memory formation for the assassination of Osama bin Laden. This resonated as a highly positive event for many Americans evidenced by the thousands of people flooding the streets of Washington, D.C., and New York City to celebrate. Results confirm the fading of memory details over time and further suggest that positive events do not result in the heightened vividness and confidence seen in negatively valenced flashbulb memories. We argue that these findings are additional evidence against a special memory mechanism in flashbulb memory formation.
Unexpected positive events do not result in flashbulb memories