Gender differences in autobiographical memory: Developmental and methodological considerations

Azriel Grysman, Judith A. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations

Abstract

Gender differences have surfaced in inconsistent ways in autobiographical memory studies. When apparent, researchers find gender differences such that women report more vivid memory experiences than men and women include more details about emotions, about other people, and about the meaningfulness of their memories. Specifically, females include more emotion, more elaboration, and a greater sense of connectedness to others in their narratives, and we consider the possible connection between these tendencies and women's advantage on a number of autobiographical and episodic memory tasks. However, not all studies of autobiographical memory find gender differences. We propose that gender differences in autobiographical memory development and interpersonal socialization contribute to the differences found, and that gender differences can be attributed, at least in part, to the influence of conversations with parents when autobiographical memory skills are developing. An examination of studies in which gender differences are not found suggests that specific instructions, context, gender salience, and the type of autobiographical memory measure used can mitigate gender differences. We conclude by outlining future directions for research, including longitudinal studies and experiments designed to systematically examine gender in autobiographical memory for its own sake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-272
Number of pages34
JournalDevelopmental Review
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Keywords

  • Autobiographical memory
  • Episodic memory
  • Gender differences

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