Toronto Metropolitan University
file (1).pdf (1.01 MB)

East-West cultural differences in encoding objects in imagined social contexts

Download (1.01 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-01, 17:52 authored by Lixia YangLixia Yang, Juan Li, Andrea Wilkinson, Julia Spaniol, Lynn Hasher

It has been shown in literature that East Asians are more inclined to process context information than individuals in Western cultures. Using a context memory task that requires studying object images in social contexts (i.e., rating objects in an imagined social or experiential scenario), our recent study revealed an age-invariant advantage for Chinese young and older participants compared to their Canadian counterparts in memory for encoding contexts. To examine whether this cultural difference also occurred during encoding, this follow-up report analyzed encoding performance and its relationship to subsequent memory based on the same data from the same task of the same sample. The results revealed that at encoding, Chinese participants provided higher ratings of objects, took longer to rate, and reported more vivid imagery of encoding contexts relative to their Canadian counterparts. Furthermore, only Chinese participants rated objects with recognized context at retrieval higher and slower relative to those with misrecognized context. For Chinese participants, primarily older adults, slower ratings were only related to better context memory but not item memory. Importantly, Chinese participants’ context memory advantage disappeared after controlling for encoding differences. Taken together, these results suggest that Chinese participants’ memory advantage for social contexts may have its origin in the construction of elaborative and meaningful object-context associations at encoding. 


ChinaCanada Joint Health Research Initiative

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR, CCI-102930 to LY)

National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, 30911120494 to JL)




Usage metrics




    Ref. manager