Autobiographical Memory : Depending on sensory retrieval cue and gender

Abstract: In my thesis I raised two questions: Does autobiographical memory differ i) depending on the sensory retrieval cue (Study I and II)? and ii) depending on gender (Study III)?Concerning retrieval cues, three unimodal cues (i.e., photographs, naturalistic sounds and odors) and one multimodal cue (i.e., the three unimodal cues presented simultaneously) were used to evoke autobiographical memories. The results demonstrated that the memories differed depending on retrieval cue. In particular, the olfactory-cued memories differed in semantic content and were from an earlier age in contrast to the other modalities. The visually and auditory-evoked memories differed less than expected in their semantic content and age distribution in relation to the multimodal condition. The multimodally cued memories could be described as being a combination of the three unimodalities, as illustrated by the semantic content and age distribution, though they were more similar to the visually and auditory-cued memories than to the olfactory-cued memories. One possible explanation for these results could be that we attend more to visual and auditory perceptions than to olfactory.With regard to gender, previous research has found gender differences in the manifest content (i.e., the actual words used) of autobiographical memories. However, to my knowledge none has investigated gender differences in the latent content (i.e., the underlying meaning in the expressed words). The results indicated that there was no difference between the genders in the manifest content. However, the females latently described their memories in more communal terms than males did, which supports the assumption that females are more communally oriented than are males.