Project: Research project

Grant Details


Sexual assault is a terrifying experience that may create "flashbulb
memories," which are usually indelible memories. Study of sexual
assault memories would further understanding of intrusive re-
experiencing, the hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorder from which
victims of violence suffer. Professional growth goals include: (1) To
continue education in cognitive psychology through formal seminars and
consultation, and (2) To adapt cognitive methodology to the study of
clinically significant memories. Specific aims of the research plan
are: (a) T determine whether rape memories are resistant to forgetting;
(b) To compare rape memories with other flashbulb memories on characteristics including trace attributes, retrograde amnesia,
enhanced detail, and the effects of rehearsal on memory intensity over
time; (c) To examine recall data for evidence that rape memories are
modified and interact with causal attributions regarding the rape event;
(d) To predict aims a-b. It involves 180 college women including rape
victims and two comparison samples (non-sexual assault victims and first
time sexual experiences, 30 per group), all who are within 12 weeks of
the target experience occurrence. Participants will be questioned
initially and again at one at one year about their memory for the target
event and for a prototypical flashbulb memory-creating event (the
October, 1989 earthquake). To control for measurement effects, three
similar groups will be assessed a single time at one year postevent.
Dependent measures include objectively rated retention accuracy between
pre- and post testing as well as self-rated memory characteristics
obtained from a standardized memory questionnaire. Study Two addresses
aims c-d. Participants will be adult working women who have experienced
completed rape. All rape victims identified by a mailed survey,
regardless of time since rape, will be interviewed creating a cross-
sectional sample of approximately 250 women. From these, 50 women who
have experienced rape within three months will be followed
longitudinally with testing at
Effective start/end date4/1/913/31/96


  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)


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