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Culture Influences Memory: Americans and Asians Better At Remembering Different Things

Update Date: Dec 27, 2013 06:21 PM EST
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Your culture determines what you remember, a new study suggests.

US researchers found that Americans tend to remember objects, whereas East Asians tend to remember people.

"Your culture influences what you perceive to be important around you," said Angela Gutchess, an assistant professor of psychology at Brandeis University, according to Daily Mail.

"If your culture values social interactions, you will remember those interactions better than a culture that values individual perceptions. Culture really shapes your memory," added Gutchess.

The latest study involved 65 students from the U.S. and East Asian countries. Participants were shown a series of images of objects on the first day. The second day, participants were shown another series of object in which some photographs were repeated and some were similar.

The findings revealed that American students performed significantly better at identifying duplicate images compared to East Asian students.

Another experiment revealed that Americans were also better than East Asians at identifying detailed scenes, which included photographs of offices, kitchen and savannahs.

"Previous studies had shown East Asians were better able to remember background and contextual details but this study showed that's not always the case," said Gutchess. "This may be because East Asian memory is more focused on emotional context and social detail than visual detail."

Researchers said that findings might help improve diplomatic relations and teaching styles, by tailoring them to different cultures.

"If we can understand how we remember, we can begin to really understand one another better," Gutchess said.

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