In my life: memory, self and The Beatles

Shazia Akhtar, Martin A. Conway, Lucy.V Justice, Catriona M. Morrison

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In a large-scale study, we asked people for their memories of The Beatles. Over four thousand respondents completed an online questionnaire. The memory could be related to a song, album, event, TV, film, or even a personal encounter. Respondents judged the age at which the event remembered had occurred and rated the memory for vividness, emotional intensity, valence and rehearsal. We found 38% of the memories were classified as “seeing The Beatles live”, 25% “buying Beatles music”, 20% “love of The Beatles” and 17% of the memories were “listening to Beatles songs with other people” – what we refer to as cascading memories. Among the younger respondents (aged 26 and under), 84% of the memories were cascading in nature. The memories dated to what we term the “self-defining period” in autobiographical memory (previously termed “the reminiscence bump”), with a mean age-at-encoding of 13.6 years, which is consistent with other studies of memories associated with music. We propose that these memories reflect the formation of generational identity [Mannheim, K. (1952). The problem of generations. In K. Mannheim (Ed.), Essays on the sociology knowledge (pp. 276–321). Routledge & Keegan Paul].
Original languageEnglish
Article number2314510
Pages (from-to)296-307
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Early online date5 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2024


  • Beatles
  • Memories
  • reminiscence bump
  • self-defining period


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