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Cognitive, emotional, and social factors influencing memory for important public events in the Belgian context Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
6 November 2019
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3095

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Visiting speaker seminar on behalf of the Centre for Research on Self and Identity (CRSI)

This talk examines cognitive, emotional, and social factors influencing memory for important public events that occurred in Belgium in the last 100 years.

I will first report studies examining flashbulb memories (FBMs). FBMs are memories of the circumstances in which individuals first learned of consequential public events. Cognitive and emotional factors interact to predict different dimensions of FBMs (consistency, confidence, vividness). This will be shown in two contexts, the death of the Belgian King in 1993 and the terrorist attacks of 2016 in Brussels. The last study will also highlight that social identity dimensions (Brussels, Belgium, or Europe) affect FBMs.

Then, I will show the central role of positive emotions in the formation of collective memories by comparing, forty-five years after the splitting of the University of Louvain, the degree of elaboration of those memories among Dutch and French-speaking former students.

I will finish with two recent projects related to memories of the World Wars.  In the first one, we investigated the current knowledge French-speaking and German-speaking Belgians from different age groups have for the end of WWI on November 11th 1918. In the second one, we examined intergenerational transmission of WWII memories in Belgian families. We compared families which were not involved and families in which one ancestor was active either in the resistance or the collaboration.

Speaker information

Professor Olivier Luminet, Université catholique de Louvain. Olivier Luminet is research director at the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS), full professor at the Université catholique de Louvain and associate professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He is the current president of the Belgian Association for Psychological Sciences (BAPS). During his career, he accomplished long research/education stays at the Universities of Toulouse (France), Manchester (UK) and Toronto (Canada). One central part of his research activity is dedicated to the interactions between emotion, personality and health. He has published widely on alexithymia since 1999, including a book in French published in 2013 and more than 40 papers in international journals. He is co-editor of Alexithymia: Advances in Research, Theory, and Clinical Practice published by Cambridge University Press (2018). A second part of his research activity is dedicated to the links between emotion, identity and memories (both at the individual and at the collective levels). He has conducted several studies on cognitive and emotional determinants of flashbulb memories and their impact on collective memory. He is co-editor of Flashbulb memories: New challenges and future perspectives published by Routledge (2017).

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