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Once upon a Time: Explaining Cultural Differences in Episodic Specificity



Research has generated converging evidence of cross-cultural differences in episodic specificity, whereby Western children and adults exhibit greater abilities to recall specific past events and event-specific details than their Asian counterparts. Are the cultural differences a result of methodological artifacts or the true work of ‘culture?’ This article addresses this question by critically evaluating recent cross-cultural data. The analysis based on extant work suggests that culture shapes episodic remembering through two intrapersonal variables – self-construal and emotion knowledge – and one interpersonal variable – parent–child reminiscing. The role of culture is discussed in a larger theoretical context pertaining to human memory and cognition and future directions are suggested.

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