Research suggests that people in Eastern interdependent cultures process information more holistically and attend more to contextual information than do people in Western independent cultures. The current study examined the effects of culture and age on memory for socially meaningful item-context associations in 71 Canadians of Western European descent (35 young and 36 older) and 72 native Chinese citizens (36 young and 36 older). All participants completed two blocks of context memory tasks. During encoding, participants rated pictures of familiar objects. In one block, objects were rated either for their meaningfulness in the independent living context or their typicality in daily life. In the other block, objects were rated for their meaningfulness in the context of fostering relationships with others or for their typicality in daily life. The encoding in each block was followed by a recognition test in which participants identified pictures and their associated contexts. The results showed that Chinese outperformed Canadians in context memory, though both culture groups showed similar age-related deficits in item and context memory. The results suggest that Chinese are at an advantage in memory for socially meaningful item-context associations, an advantage that continues from young adulthood into old age.
Yang L, Li J, Spaniol J, Hasher L, Wilkinson AJ, Yu J, et al. (2013) Aging, Culture, and Memory for Socially Meaningful Item-Context Associations: An East-West Cross-Cultural Comparison Study. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60703.