Why We Remember and What We Remember: Culture and Autobiographical Memory

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2010 Jul;5(4):401-9. doi: 10.1177/1745691610375555.


We examine cultural (mainly East and West) differences in the functions and contents of autobiographical memory. We discuss how cultural differences in physical environments, self-views, the motivation to self-enhance, concerns for behavioral and emotional regulation, socialization, and language affect the contents and use of memory. Cultural influences take place at the individual level of cognitive schemata and memory strategies, as well as the interpersonal sphere of daily mnemonic practices and exchanges. Autobiographical memory is categorically cultural.

Keywords: autobiographical memory; culture; memory functions; self-regulation; self-views.

Publication types

  • Review