People most remember events from late adolescence and early adulthood

The Washington Post:

Our 20-somethings are having a moment. They’re inspiring self-help guides, television shows, Tumblrs-turned-handbooks, major newspaper and magazine think pieces on why they do what they do (or don’t do). The current crop of young adults are recession-squeezed, peculiarly savvy and adrift, connected and lonely, knowing and naive. But what is it with 20-somethings in general? And why are we so fixated on this no man’s land between childhood and stable adulthood?

A little-known but robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. It plays an outsize role in how people structure their expectations, stories and memories. The basic finding is this: People remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than from any other stage of their lives. This phenomenon is called the reminiscence bump.

Yet this doesn’t explain why only a small portion of the memories that constitute the reminiscence bump relate to novel experiences. A 2010 study by Annette Bohn and Dorthe Berntsen created a form of reminiscence bump in schoolchildren without asking them to remember a thing. They had a large group of students, age 10 to 14, write their life stories. Most of the future events the kids dreamed up clustered around young adulthood. If the reminiscence bump were merely an offshoot of how our brains store memories, the researchers argued, the children wouldn’t have also focused on their future 20s when projecting ahead.

Read the whole story: The Washington Post

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