Cross-cultural and gender differences in childhood amnesia

Memory. 2000 Nov;8(6):365-76. doi: 10.1080/09658210050156822.


In two experiments, we examined cross-cultural and gender differences in adults' earliest memories. To do this, we asked male and female adults from three cultural backgrounds (New Zealand European, New Zealand Maori, and Asian) to describe and date their earliest personal memory. Consistent with past research, Asian adults reported significantly later memories than European adults, however this effect was due exclusively to the extremely late memories reported by Asian females. Maori adults, whose traditional culture includes a strong emphasis on the past, reported significantly earlier memories than adults from the other two cultural groups. Across all three cultures, the memories reported by women contained more information than the memories reported by men. These findings support the view that the age and content of our earliest memories are influenced by a wide range of factors including our culture and our gender. These factors must be incorporated into any comprehensive theory of autobiographical memory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / psychology
  • Amnesia / ethnology
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Emotions
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • New Zealand
  • Sex Characteristics*