The Influence of Gender and Gender Typicality on Autobiographical Memory Across Event Types and Age Groups

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Memory and Cognition


Gender differences in autobiographical memory emerge in some data collection paradigms and not others. The present study included an extensive analysis of gender differences in autobiographical narratives. Data were collected from 196 participants, evenly split by gender and by age group (emerging adults, ages 18–29, and young adults, ages 30–40). Each participant reported four narratives, including an event that had occurred in the last 2 years, a high point, a low point, and a self-defining memory. Additionally, all participants completed self-report measures of masculine and feminine gender typicality. The narratives were coded along six dimensions—namely coherence, connectedness, agency, affect, factual elaboration, and interpretive elaboration. The results indicated that females expressed more affect, connection, and factual elaboration than males across all narratives, and that feminine typicality predicted increased connectedness in narratives. Masculine typicality predicted higher agency, lower connectedness, and lower affect, but only for some narratives and not others. These findings support an approach that views autobiographical reminiscing as a feminine-typed activity and that identifies gender differences as being linked to categorical gender, but also to one’s feminine gender typicality, whereas the influences of masculine gender typicality were more context-dependent. We suggest that implicit gendered socialization and more explicit gender typicality each contribute to gendered autobiographies.


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