Do other peoples' experiences influence us? If so, how and what social, cultural and historical factors are related to incorporating others' life events into our own life stories?
We currently exploring vicarious memories, which are events that happened to someone else (e.g., family member, friend, acquaintance, etc), but nevertheless influenced you in some important capacity (e.g., your identity/life story, beliefs, values, motivations, etc). Our research shows that vicarious events are most memorable and most central to a person's own life story when they occur within the context of a close (rather than distant) social relationship, when the self is more proximal to the event (than distal) (e.g., during shared/co-constructed events vs. hearsay and witnessed accounts) and when you feel connected/"merged" with the protagonist at the time of the event.
We are continuing to explore the important precursors and implications of vicarious memory using both qualitative (narrative) and quantitative approaches.