A cross-cultural investigation of autobiographical memory on the universality and cultural variation of the reminiscence bump

Martin A. Conway, Q. I. Wang, Kazunori Hanyu, Shamsul Haque

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


Groups from Japan, China, Bangladesh, England, and the United States recalled, described, and dated specific autobiographical memories. When memories were plotted in terms of age-at-encoding highly similar life-span memory retrieval curves were observed: the periods of childhood amnesia and the reminiscence bump were the same across cultures. However, content analysis of memory descriptions of the U.S. and Chinese groups found that memories from the Chinese group had interdependent self-focus (i.e., were of events with a group or social orientation), whereas the memory content of the U.S. group showed an independent self-focus (i.e., were of events oriented to the individual). These findings suggest that there are culturally invariant features of autobiographical memory that yield structurally similar memories across cultures, yet the content of memories is sensitive to cultural influences related to the nature of the self. Findings are discussed in light of similarities and diversity between selves with different self/other orientations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-749
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Autobiographical memory
  • Culture
  • Reminiscence bump
  • Self

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