Culture, memory, and the self: An analysis of the personal and collective self in long-term memory

Brandon M. Wagar, Dov Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used a memory paradigm to test whether the nature of representations of the self within long-term memory differed as a function of cultural background. In Western samples words encoded in relation to the self are typically remembered better, and Euro-Canadian participants here showed this standard self-reference effect. However, Asian-Canadian participants were slower to recognize personal traits (as opposed to collective traits) when these traits had been encoded in reference to the self, suggesting a more elaborate representation of the collective self than the personal self in long-term memory. Further, memory was actually inhibited for Asian-Canadians when personal traits were encoded in reference to the self (vs. encoded with other referents). Differences in long-term memory trace strength for self-related data may emerge even as differences in the working self do not, and implications of this difference are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-475
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Collectivism
  • Culture
  • Independence
  • Individualism
  • Interdependence
  • Long-term memory
  • Self
  • Self-concept
  • Self-reference effect
  • Self-schema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Culture, memory, and the self: An analysis of the personal and collective self in long-term memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this