The relationship between sociocultural factors and autobiographical memories from childhood: the role of formal schooling

Manuel L. de la Mata , Andrés Santamaría, Eva M. Trigo, Mercedes Cubero, Samuel Arias, Radka Antalikova, Tia Gitte Bondesen Hansen, Marcia L. Ruiz

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-cultural differences in autobiographical memory (AM) are associated with cultural variations. In models of the self and parental reminiscing style, but not many studies have analysed the relationship between AM and specific cultural practices such as formal schooling. Theoreticians like [Greenfield, P. M. (2009). Linking social change and developmental change: Shifting. pathways of human development. Developmental Psychology, 45, 401–418. doi:10.1037/a0014726; Kağitçibaşi, C. (2005). Autonomy and relatedness in cultural context. Implications for self and family. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36, 403–422. doi:10.1177/0022022105275959] and [Keller, H. (2007). Children development across cultures. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates] have considered formal schooling as an engine towards the model of independence; however, the empirical evidence in this regard is inconclusive: while some studies found evidence of a relation between formal schooling and characteristics of AM, others did not. To solve this inconsistency, the present study compared orally narrated childhood memories of Mexican adults with three different levels of education (from rudimentary literacy to university). Results support a relationship between formal schooling and AM in the predicted direction: More educated participants reported longer, more specific and more self-oriented memories than those with less schooling experience did. Some gender differences were also observed, with males generally reporting more individually and less socially oriented memories than females, except for university level participants. We conclude that these results support Greenfield’s theory about formal schooling as a sociocultural factor that promotes the cultural pathway to independence, as well as complexity and context-boundedness of gender differences in AM.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • Autobiographical memory
  • childhood memories
  • self
  • culture
  • education
  • gender


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