Culture influences source-memory for self-referenced information
Blenis, Robert Colin
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Much of existing memory research has focused on individuals from Western cultures. As our society becomes increasingly multi-cultural, a cross-cultural approach to memory research is critical for generating more generalizable theories of memory. The values an individual endorses can influence the information that they remember, and the values that different cultural groups cultivate lead to substantive differences in the way people understand themselves. For example, East Asian cultures cultivate values of interdependence, while Western cultures cultivate values of independence. In this study, students from East Asian and Western cultures decided whether trait adjectives were self-descriptive. The adjectives were presented in two contexts: a context stressing independence and a context stressing interdependence. It was predicted that source memory would be improved in contexts that emphasize values that are consistent with the cultural values an individual endorses. Americans accurately recalled more words paired with the context stressing independence than words paired with the context stressing interdependence; suggesting that source memory improves when details being recollected are consistent with cultural values. No significant effects were found within the Chinese group.