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Aging, Culture, and Memory for Categorically Processed Information

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posted on 2022-11-01, 17:53 authored by Lixia YangLixia Yang, Wengfeng Chen, Andy H. Ng, Xiaolan Fu

Objectives. Literature on cross-cultural differences in cognition suggests that categorization, as an information processing and organization strategy, was more often used by Westerners than by East Asians, particularly for older adults. This study examines East-West cultural differences in memory for categorically processed items and sources in young and older Canadians and native Chinese with a conceptual source memory task (Experiment 1) and a reality monitoring task (Experiment 2). 

Method. In Experiment 1, participants encoded photographic faces of their own ethnicity that were artificially categorized into GOOD or EVIL characters and then completed a source memory task in which they identified faces as old-GOOD, old-EVIL, or new. In Experiment 2, participants viewed a series of words, each followed either by a corresponding image (i.e., SEEN) or by a blank square within which they imagined an image for the word (i.e., IMAGINED). At test, they decided whether the test words were old-SEEN, old-IMAGINED, or new. 

Results. In general, Canadians outperformed Chinese in memory for categorically processed information, an effect more pronounced for older than for young adults. 

Discussion. Extensive exercise of culturally preferred categorization strategy differentially benefits Canadians and reduces their age group differences in memory for categorically processed information. 

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