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The organization and structure of autobiographical memory$
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John Mace

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198784845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198784845.001.0001

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Culture in the Organization of Autobiographical Memory

Culture in the Organization of Autobiographical Memory

(p.72) 5 Culture in the Organization of Autobiographical Memory
The organization and structure of autobiographical memory

Qi Wang

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines a cultural dynamic theory as the framework to understand and predict the effects of cultural variables on the organization of autobiographical memory. The theory posits that autobiographical memory takes place in the dynamic transaction between an active individual and his or her changing environment; it is situated in culturally conditioned time and space over a multitude of timescales; and it develops in the process of children acquiring cultural knowledge about the self and the purpose of the past through early socialization. The organization of autobiographical memory is discussed in terms of objective, subjective, and structural components and applies the theoretical model of the cultural dynamic theory to discuss the influence of culture on each of the components. To illustrate the overarching influence of culture on remembering, parallel findings of episodic memory as typically assessed in laboratory settings with non-personal materials (e.g., stories) are further discussed, and vicarious memory for events that happened to other people. Although these three types of memory vary in the degree of personal relevance or self-involvement, it is demonstrated that their organizational components are similarly and inevitably conditioned by cultural variables as the cultural dynamic theory predicts. Whereas this discussion focuses on extant findings involving the comparison between Westerners, especially European-Americans, and East Asians, the cultural dynamic theory should also apply to other cultural groups for the understanding of the dynamic impact of culture on remembering.

Keywords:   culture, cultural dynamic theory, memory organization, autobiographical memory, episodic memory, vicarious memory, organizational components

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