Memory metaphors and the real-life/laboratory controversy: Correspondence versus storehouse conceptions of memory

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The study of memory is witnessing a spirited clash between proponents of traditional laboratory research and those advocating a more naturalistic approach to the study of 'real-life' or 'everyday' memory. The debate has generally centered on the 'what' (content), 'where' (context), and 'how' (methods) of memory research. In this target article, we argue that the controversy discloses a further, more fundamental breach between two underlying memory metaphors, each having distinct implications for memory theory and assessment: Whereas traditional memory research has been dominated by the storehouse metaphor, leading to a focus on the number of items remaining in store and accessible to memory, the recent wave of everyday memory research has shifted toward a correspondence metaphor. focusing on the accuracy of memory in representing past events. The correspondence metaphor calls for a research approach that differs from the traditional one in important respects: in emphasizing the intentional-representational function of memory, in addressing the wholistic and graded aspects of memory correspondence, in taking an output-bound assessment perspective, and in allowing more room for the operation of subject-controlled metamemory processes and motivational factors. This analysis can help tie together some of the what, where, and how aspects of the 'real-life/laboratory' controversy. More important, however, by explicating the unique metatheoretical foundation of the accuracy-oriented approach to memory we aim to promote a more effective exploitation of the correspondence metaphor in both naturalistic and laboratory research contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-228
Number of pages62
JournalBehavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996


  • Accuracy
  • Correspondence
  • Everyday memory
  • Intentionality
  • Memory
  • Metamemory
  • Monitoring
  • Recall
  • Recognition
  • Response criterion
  • Signal detection
  • Storehouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Memory metaphors and the real-life/laboratory controversy: Correspondence versus storehouse conceptions of memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this