Culture, gender, and the first memories of black and white American students
A pattern of delayed offset of childhood amnesia in Asian cultures has been attributed to the influence of the collectivist orientation of these cultures. To explore the generality of this finding, black and white American students were compared in two studies. A culture X gender interaction was observed in both studies; black women were approximately 11-16 months older at the time of their first memory than were black men, white women, and white men. In the second study, analyses of memory content indicated that black women were least likely to report personal experiences and most likely to report experiences from family or wider social contexts. Overall, black participants rated their memories as more vivid, but there were culture X gender interactions for ratings of emotional intensity and coherence. We consider multiple influences on age at first memory, including distal influences, gender themes in self-construal, and proximal influences on search criteria.