Abstract Older adults recalled memories from each decade of life. Memories were classified in terms of the psychosocial stages to which their content corresponded. For the majority of memories it was found that age at encoding corresponded to when specific psychosocial stages would have been most likely to have occurred. In a second experiment older adults recalled memories to cues drawn from psychosocial stages and the same pattern of findings was observed. These findings demonstrate that the goals of the self play a major role in both the encoding and accessibility of autobiographical memories, and they also provide support for Erikson's psychosocial theory of development (1950, 1997).