Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Joseph M. Fitzgerald


Recent research seeking an expanded view of everyday autobiographical memory functions found evidence for a new function: perspective taking (Ranson & Fitzgerald, in preparation)—which is the inferring of others’ mental states (Batson, Early, & Salvarani, 1997; Ickes, 2003). Because no other study has implicated the social behavior of perspective taking as a purpose for which autobiographical memory is used, Chapter 1 of the current paper proposes a conceptual cognitive process model developed to provide a theoretical explanation. The resultant Expanded Simulation Model was adapted for use in the current paper from the cognitive process model detailed in simulation theory (Goldman, 2006; Shanton & Goldman, 2010). The Expanded Simulation Model illustrates how, through the mechanism of mental simulation, autobiographical memory specifically, rather than long-term memory generally, can be used to inform perspective taking—thus theoretically substantiating perspective taking as a function of autobiographical memory.

Chapter 1 of the current paper details the “unpacking” of the simulation theory process model’s superficially defined long-term memory component to show how autobiographical memory content is activated, retrieved, and incorporated in simulation for perspective taking. Also aligned with a recent extension to simulation theory by Shanton and Goldman (2010), the Expanded Simulation Model can be used to explain how autobiographical memory specifically informs mental time travel—the mental traveling of oneself through conceptual time (Schacter & Addis, 2007). As such, the Expanded Simulation Model, in keeping with Shanton and Goldman’s revised model, can account for the two ensuing forms of simulation: interpersonal and intrapersonal. That is, because perspective taking is other-directed, it is underlain by autobiographical memory-informed interpersonal simulation, whereas self-directed nature of mental time travel is underlain by autobiographical memory-informed intrapersonal simulation. Two empirical studies were designed to test the claims of Chapter 1. Study 1 (Chapter 2) validated a newly developed instrument for measuring the frequency with which individuals use autobiographical memory for perspective taking and two mental time travel functions: prospection (imagining future scenarios) (Schacter & Addis, 2007) and counterfactual thinking (reconstructing the past to imagine an details or an outcome that did not actually occur) (Roese & Olson, 1995).

Results of exploratory principal axis factoring for ordinal data, as well as confirmatory factor analysis using a structural equation model approach, yielded evidence that the 10-item Autobiographical Memory Functions of Simulation (AMFS) scale reliably measured the functions of perspective taking, prospection, and counterfactual thinking. Study 2 (Chapter 3) used the validated AMFS scale to evaluate the functions of perspective taking, prospection, and counterfactual thinking in the presence of, and in comparison to, other known autobiographical memory functions to glean a better understanding of their viability as independent functions. Results supported the independence of the AMFS functions. Further, evidence recommended the characterization of the AMFS function of Perspective Taking as “simulation-based,” whereas the AMFJR Perspective Taking function instead reflected rated frequency of functional use of autobiographical memory for socially situated Perspective Taking. Also discussed were mapping of the AMFS and AMFJR functions onto the broad functions of the TALE (Bluck & Alea, 2011), as well as personality, age, gender, and culture effects.