Research on the nature of episodic memory organization has suggested that the dominant organizing principle among episodic memories is either conceptual organization, where memories cluster around the same content (e.g., memories about the people), or a type of temporal organization known as general events, where memories cluster around extended events (e.g., a holiday in London), repeated events (e.g., Sunday walks in the park), or causally related events (i.e., where one event leads to another). Because these opposing conclusions have been derived separately from involuntary or voluntary measures of autobiographical memory, Mace, Clevinger, and Martin (2010) hypothesized that involuntary retrieval processes and voluntary retrieval processes may be accessing episodic memories differentially, such that one produces high frequencies of conceptually clustered memories, whereas the other produces high frequencies of general event clustered memories. This study failed to find support for this hypothesis. In 2 experiments, 3 different types of voluntary retrieval tasks found that conceptually clustered memories were substantially more frequent than general event clustered memories. We argue that these results support the view that episodic memories are organized mainly conceptually.

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