Examining the Psychometrics of the Autobiographical Interview

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Investigations of autobiographical memory have increased in recent years. Many studies have used the Autobiographical Interview to characterize individual differences in the ability to recall one’s personal past. However, a comprehensive investigation of the psychometric properties of the Autobiographical Interview has not been reported. The Autobiographical Interview requires participants to recount specific autobiographical events that have occurred over several life epochs. Each remembrance is scored for episodic (i.e. specific details) and semantic (i.e. general facts and information) features of the recalled event. Here we investigated the reliability, internal consistency and construct validity of the Autobiographical Interview in a sample of 120 young adults. Inter-rater reliability was high for a sample of expert raters. Internal consistency, the quantity of internal (episodic) and external (semantic) event details recalled across three life epochs was lower than predicted. Construct validity was assessed as correlations between the autobiographical interview and standard measures of episodic and semantic memory, executive functioning, and social cognition. The Autobiographical Interview demonstrated only moderate and variable associations with episodic memory and executive function measures. It was not reliably associated with measures of social cognition. These findings suggest that the psychometric properties of the Autobiographical Interview are variable, with strong inter-rater reliability and lower than predicted internal and construct validity. Given the prominence of this measure in the study of autobiographical memory, future research is necessary to determine whether the autobiographical interview is providing a reliable and valid assessment of individual differences in the ability to recall one’s personal past.

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Psychology; social cognition; Memory; Cognitive psychology; Social psychology; Autobiographical Memory; Episodic Memory; Executive Functioning; Working Memory


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Spreng, Robert Nathan

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Wang, Qi

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Human Development

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M.A., Human Development

Degree Level

Master of Arts

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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