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The significance of autobiographical memory cannot possibly be overrated (Bauer, 2014). It serves as a powerful tool for boosting the process of acquiring knowledge and skills. However, the explicit knowledge of this phenomenon is yet to be studied. In their research, Wang, Koh, Song, and Hou (2014) explore the levels of awareness of autobiographical memory among European and Asian American adults and children.
The study shows that the use of memory in everyday situations hinges on cultural context. To be more specific, Western cultures tend to focus on the concept of self as the basis for building autobiographical memory. Therefore, the authors assume that a metacognitive approach to the process of memorizing and recalling can be adopted when helping European and Asian American students learn more efficiently and use all available resources.
Although the concept of memory—including its nature, its essential processes, the way that information is memorized, retained, and sorted into the long- or short-term memory, etc.—needs further exploration, indications suggest that cultural differences affect the way people use memory to recall and memorize information. For example, using autobiographical memory as a means of building relationships is typically viewed as a priority in Western cultures.
The Asian perspective on the use of memory, however, suggests that a much greater emphasis should be placed on using memory as a learning resource so that it can be expanded with the help of consistent training and the analysis of their ancestors’ experiences. Therefore, while Western cultures glorify the concept of forwarding thinking, Asian ones focus on exploring opportunities for an in-depth assessment of specific experiences.
As a result, the functions of memory that are associated with the management of emotions are valued less by members of Asian cultures since the latter tend to consider negative events as inescapable and, therefore, are more accepting of them. Furthermore, the concept of autobiographical memory itself seems to vary greatly based on culture.
A significant difference also can be seen in the ways autobiographical memory is used in Western and Asian cultures. For example, in the former, the emotional development of a child is the focus of the memory training process. Thus, the social function of autobiographical memory is used extensively so that a child can develop effective mechanisms for regulating emotion. In Asian cultures, however, the significance of building a family hierarchy with the help of autobiographical memory is stressed.
Thus, the goals of the study primarily concern how children perceive the concept of memory and its functions. The research was carried out among young adults of European American and Asian American descent. The authors of the researchers hypothesized that focusing on the social aspects of autobiographical memory and incorporating these into the learning process allows students to develop necessary academic skills faster and more efficiently than the strategy of using autobiographical memory as a hierarchy-building tool.
The authors of the study built a comprehensive tool for collecting relevant data. The choice of designing a separate tool was dictated primarily by the need to keep the questions and associated answers short. Furthermore, the assessment also covered the phenomena of self-understanding and self-expression. The questionnaire included numerous statements about general others since the specified approach has been proven to generate data about the respondents’ knowledge of cultural consensus and to provide extensive information about their behavior and cognition.
Fifty-seven young adults and 68 children were enrolled in the research as participants. During one-hour visits to the respondents’ home, interviews were conducted to measure participants’ knowledge of memory functions and test the efficacy of their autobiographical memory. The latter assessment was conducted by asking the participants about four recent situations in which they experienced specific emotions (e.g., anger, happiness, etc.). The memories were transcribed and coded respectively. Finally, a control measure for language skills was used to define the effects of verbal abilities on memory functions.
The results show significant developmental differences among the participants as far as the four parameters of autobiographical memory are concerned. However, the research outcomes also indicate that children from a European American background have better control over their emotions, as well as general knowledge thereof than their Asian American counterparts. In other words, Western cultures tend to use memory as a means of building self-identity, whereas for Asian Americans, the importance of the didactic purposes of memory is heavily stressed.
Furthermore, the outcomes of the research point to the fact that people who can engage in metacognitive processes and understand how their memory functions will demonstrate better results when using their memory skills. The fact that a better understanding of memory functions allows for more efficient memory retention and further use of memory has been proven in the course of the study. Finally, the connection between the events that were memorized and the purposes of the identified memories has been established. The outcomes of the analysis give reasons to believe that there is a tangible link between the cognitive-social characteristics of the stages of development and the ways that autobiographical memories are used.
- Autobiographical Memory: Background.
- Memory Functions and Their Analysis.
- Placing Memory Functions in a Cultural Context.
- Autobiographical and Sociocultural Memory.
- Opportunities for Memory Development.
- Conclusion: Autobiographical Memory and Its Importance.
Activity: A Suggestion
The specified video by Nicole Rice (2014) sheds light on the way memory works. The video can be used to educate learners and engage them in a group discussion. Thus, a better understanding of memory can be built.
- Why is autobiographical memory important as a means of encouraging the academic and personal development of students, including children and young adults?
- What are the key differences in the development and use of autobiographical memory by children and young adults?
- In what way do the sociocultural specifics of learners’ backgrounds affect the development of autobiographical and sociocultural memory skills?
- Is it necessary to place an especially strong emphasis on the emotional aspects of learners’ development when designing memory training programs?
- Is it possible to live without autobiographical memory?
- What connections can be made between autobiographical and sociocultural memory types?
- Are there any factors that contribute to the faster development of sociocultural and autobiographical memory types?
- Is it necessary to take the sociocultural context into account when designing strategies for improving the memory of a target audience?
- Are there any differences in the way that children and adults use sociocultural and autobiographical memory?
- How can autobiographical memory be improved in children, adults, and other age groups?
- What obstacles may arise when designing a framework for enhancing autobiographical and sociocultural memory?
- What strategies can be used to successfully address the specified obstacles?
- How can the specifics of learners’ emotional development affect the acquisition of autobiographical memory and the relevant skills?
- What opportunities for designing teaching and learning strategies for children and young adults does the further exploration of autobiographical and sociocultural memory types provide?
Bauer, P. J. (2014). Remembering the times of our lives: Memory in infancy and beyond. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
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Rice, N. (2014). Autobiographical memory. Web.
Wang, Q., Koh, J. B., Song, Q., & Hou, Y. (2014). Knowledge of memory functions in European and Asian American adults and children: The relation to autobiographical memory. Memory, 23(1), 25-38. Web.