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Collabra: Psychology


Gender differences in autobiographical memory have been reported in many studies using narrative coding of features including emotion word use, connectedness to others, and event specific details, with women using more of these narrative features than men. The current pair of studies explored if these narrative tendencies are linked to a sense of self being feminine, by priming female participants to rate themselves on stereotypically feminine trait terms related to emotionality and relationships. In study 1, an online study, participants provided one high point and one low point memory narrative, either in a priming or control group. Narrative coding only differed between the prime and control groups on one of five narrative coded variables, and order effects suggested that the prime may not have been strong enough to influence the second narrative or low point narratives. Study 2 remedied methodological concerns by conducting in-person data collection, strengthening the prime, and eliciting only high point narratives. In study 2, no effects of the prime were found on narrative coded variables. Findings suggest these narrative variables are not influenced by priming femininity and contribute to a growing literature that is deepening an understanding of the source of gender differences in autobiographical memory.


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Open access publication of this article was made possible with grant support from Waidner-Spahr Library distributed through the Dickinson College Research & Development Committee.



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