Cite: Zelig and Nachson, Collective Emotional Memories: The Case of Rabin’s Assassination

Zelig, Anat and Israel Nachson. “Accurate, Inaccurate and Omitted Details in Collective Emotional Memories: The Case of Itzhak Rabin’s Assassination.” Memory 20.7 (2012): 742-757.





Collective memory of the assassination of the former Israeli Prime Minister, Itzhak Rabin, was originally examined by asking 61 Israeli students, about two weeks after the assassination (T1) and about 11 months later (T2) to fill out an open-ended questionnaire about the assassination. About 13 years later (T3) a new sample of 80 students also filled out the memory questionnaire. In T2 and T3 the participants also self-assessed various emotional and cognitive variables about their memories. All answers were segmented and categorised into accurate and inaccurate memories. Data analyses showed that the amounts of accurate memories decreased from T1 to T2 by 18 per cent, and from T2 to T3 by an additional 16 per cent, and were positively correlated in T2 with national importance and emotional reaction, and in T3 with self-assessed ability to remember events and amounts of visual representations. Content analysis of the most frequently memorised accurate, inaccurate and omitted memories showed that they displayed differential qualitative characteristics and that the most prevalent accurate narrative has varied over time. It appears that the collective memories of Rabin’s assassination showed episodic features similar to those shown by eyewitnesses exposed to emotion-arousing events only once. The data suggest a distinction between episodic “collective memories” and semantic “collective knowledge”.

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