Memory for information organized in a scene by children from two cultures

Child Dev. 1982 Oct;53(5):1224-8.


In cross-cultural research, Western children have shown better memory performance than non-Western children. Such research, however, is usually limited to tests emphasizing memory for isolated bits of information upon which organization must be imposed. Such tasks are highly unusual in everyday settings, in which most information to be remembered is contextually organized. The present study investigates reconstruction of an organized 3-dimensional miniature scene by 30 Mayan and 30 U.S. 9-year-olds. On standard memory tests, the Mayan children have shown poorer performance. With the organized scene, however, the Mayan children's performance has been as good as that of the U.S. children. The results suggest that, through everyday experience, children of any culture may be skilled in remembering information organized by a meaningful context, while variation in amount of experience with lists of items devoid of organization may lead to cultural differences in standard list-memory tests.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Female
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • Indians, South American / psychology*
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Psychology, Child
  • Space Perception*
  • United States