Parallel Associations and the Structure of Autobiographical Knowledge

Robert F. Belli, Tarek Al Baghal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The self-memory system (SMS) model of autobiographical knowledge conceives that memories are structured thematically, organized both hierarchically and temporally. This model has been challenged on several fronts, including the absence of parallel linkages across pathways. Calendar survey interviewing shows the frequent and varied use of parallel associations in autobiographical recall. Parallel associations in these data are commonplace, and are driven more by respondents’ generative retrieval than by interviewers’ probing. Parallel associations represent a number of autobiographical knowledge themes that are interrelated across life domains. The content of parallel associations is nearly evenly split between general and transitional events, supporting the importance of transitions in autographical memory. Associations in respondents’ memories (both parallel and sequential), demonstrate complex interactions with interviewer verbal behaviors during generative retrieval. In addition to discussing the implications of these results to the SMS model, implications are also drawn for transition theory and the basic-systems model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-157
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Autobiographical knowledge
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Autobiographical periods
  • Episodic memory
  • Retrospective reports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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