Sex differences in the recall of affective experiences


Seidlitz, L., & Diener, E. (1998). Sex differences in the recall of affective experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(1), 262-271.


Three studies tested hypotheses for sex differences in the recall of life events: differences in (a) affect intensity at encoding, (b) affect intensity at retrieval, (c) rehearsal, (d) detail of encoding, and (e) artifacts such as motivation or verbal ability. In Study 1 (N = 419), women recalled more positive (p < .01) and more negative (p < .05) life events than men. Differences in retrieval mood were not found. Study 2 (N = 55) replicated the recall differences and showed that neither rehearsal nor artifacts were responsible. Sex differences in recalling neutral everyday events also were obtained (p < .05), suggesting that affect intensity was not responsible. In Study 3 (N = 132), affective reactions to events were unrelated to recall, but sex differences in the detail of encoding (p < .001) were related to recall (p < .05). Sex differences in autobiographical memory are reliable and may be due to differences in the detail of encoding. 

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