Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology

Faculty/School

Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Kim P. Roberts

Advisor Role

Professor/Primary Supervisor

Abstract

Culture and the self form a dynamic system that shapes children’s memories. However, how these two constructs influence specific memory processes still requires further investigation. The present dissertation contains four studies that examined the influences of cultural backgrounds and self-views on children’s memory encoding and delayed retrieval. Participants across four studies were recruited in the year range of 2016 to 2018. A total of 243 Grade 1 and 2 (the younger group) and Grade 3 and 4 (the older group) children participated, with an age range of seven to ten years. Specifically, 121 Chinese children were from Mainland China and 96 Euro-Canadian and 26 Eastern children were from Canada. In Study 1, 61 Chinese children and 50 Euro-Canadian children watched a story that contained both social- and individual-focused events. Participants’ recall and recognition memory were tested immediately after watching the story (to measure encoding), and then 5 to 7 days later (to measure memory reconstruction and delayed retrieval). Children’s self-views were measured using a revision of the Twenty Statements Test in which they provided 10 statements to describe the self following the “I…” prompt (renamed the TenST). To eliminate the confounding effect of the immediate interview on children’s delayed recall, Study 2 was conducted in which 60 Chinese and 46 Euro-Canadian children participated and received the delayed interview only. To explore how Eastern immigrant children’s unique acculturation experience shapes their memory processes, in Study 3, 26 Eastern children were recruited and their memory encoding and delayed retrieval were assessed. Study 4 included participants from the first three experiments and the association between children’s self-concept and memory encoding and delayed retrieval was evaluated.

Results showed that, compared to Euro-Canadian children, Chinese children accurately recalled more social-oriented information in both the immediate (Study 1) and delayed interviews (Studies 1 and 2). In Study 3, older Eastern children’s recall and recognition memory resembled that of their Euro-Canadian counterparts, whereas younger Eastern children’s recall and recognition memory reflected collectivist emphasis. In Study 4, whether children’s self-concept oriented towards the individualist or collectivist dimension was significantly associated with whether individual- or social-oriented information was well-encoded and remembered. A culturally invariant development trend in self-understanding also emerged – older children, compared to younger children, provided more self-descriptions related to abstract and inner qualities (e.g., “I am smart”). Overall, findings from the present program of research could elucidate the extent to which children’s memory encoding and delayed retrieval vary with their ethnic backgrounds and self-views.

Convocation Year

2019

Convocation Season

Fall

Available for download on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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