Mind, Self and Emotion

Our research encompasses developmental, cognitive, and sociocultural perspectives to examine the development of autobiographical memory and its relations to self and emotion knowledge. Integrating experimental and longitudinal approaches and utilizing multiple levels of analysis, our studies provide critical insight into the developmental mechanisms of autobiographical memory. While memory and the self mutually constitute each other as they co-mingle and develop across the lifecourse and in the micro (especially family) and macro contexts of culture, emotion knowledge facilities memory by providing a knowledge structure for individuals to interpret, organize, and represent personal event information. Our research further elucidates from a cross-cultural perspective some of the age-old questions in memory research. For example, does schematic knowledge influence encoding or retrieval or both? To what extent do memory narratives reflect underlying memory representations? And what role does language play in the reconstruction of autobiographical memory? Findings from our studies have not only revealed basic cognitive processes through which culture shapes autobiographical memory, but also informed general memory theories.  

Ongoing work in the lab examines the retrieval fluency and social function of specific versus general memories; perceptual event segmentation and its mnemonic consequences; memory in Western and Eastern literature; and the contingency between mother-child dyads during memory conversations.

Selected Publications

Wang, Q., & Song, Q. (2018). He says, she says: Mothers and children remembering the same events. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.12927 PDF

Wang, Q., Song, Q., & Koh, J. B. K. (2017). Culture, memory, and narrative self-making. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 37, 199-223. doi: 10.1177/0276236617733827 PDF

Wang, Q. (2013). Gender and emotion in everyday event memory. Memory, 21, 503-511. doi:10.1080/09658211.2012.743568 PDF

Kulkofsky, S., Wang, Q., & Hou, Y. (2010). Why I remember that: The influence of contextual factors on beliefs about everyday memory. Memory & Cognition, 38, 461-473. PDF

Wang, Q., Shao, Y., & Li, Y. J. (2010). “My way or Mom’s way?” The bilingual and bicultural self in Hong Kong Chinese children and adolescents. Child Development, 81, 2, 555-567. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01415.x PDF

Wang, Q. (2009). Are Asians forgetful? Perception, retention, and recall in episodic remembering. Cognition, 111(1), 123-131. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2009.01.004 PDF

Wang, Q. (2008). Emotion knowledge and autobiographical memory across the preschool years: A cross-cultural longitudinal investigation. Cognition, 108, 117-135. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2008.02.002 PDF

Wang, Q. (2008). Being American, being Asian: The bicultural self and autobiographical memory in Asian Americans. Cognition, 107, 743-751. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.08.005 PDF

Wang, Q. (2006). Relations of maternal style and child self-concept to autobiographical memories in Chinese, Chinese immigrant, and European American 3-year-olds. Child Development, 77, 6, 1794-1809. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00974.x PDF

Wang, Q. (2006). Culture and the development of self-knowledge. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 4, 182-187. PDF

Wang, Q. & Ross, M. (2005). What we remember and what we tell: The effects of culture and self-priming on memory representations and narratives. Memory, 13, 6, 594-606. doi:10.1080/09658210444000223 PDF

Wang, Q. (2004). The emergence of cultural self-constructs: Autobiographical memory and self-description in European American and Chinese children. Developmental Psychology, 40, 1, 3-15. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.40.1.3 PDF

Childhood Amnesia

Philosophers and psychologists with a theoretical interest in autobiographical memory have been intrigued by the common inability among adults to remember experiences from early childhood, a phenomenon referred to as childhood amnesia. A number of explanations have been offered and the topic remains the focus of a great deal of theoretical debate. Research indicates that childhood amnesia is associated with a host of neurological, cognitive, linguistic, and social mechanisms. Work from our lab adds to this literature by showing that culture plays an important role in shaping the expression and extensiveness of childhood amnesia.

Current projects focus on the accuracy of age estimates for childhood memories. Our studies have revealed a telescoping error in which children and adults systematically date their early childhood memories at older ages, in comparison with the age estimates provided by their parents or by themselves previously. These findings challenge commonly held theoretical assumptions about childhood amnesia and highlight critical methodological issues in the study of childhood memory.


Wang, Q., Peterson, C., Khuu, A., Reid, C. P., Maxwell, K. L., & Vincent, J. M. (in press). Looking at the past through a telescope: Adults postdated their earliest childhood memories. Memory. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2017.1414268 PDF

Wang, Q., & Peterson, C. (2014). Your earliest memory may be earlier than you think: Prospective studies of children’s dating of earliest childhood memories. Developmental Psychology, 50, 6, 1680-6. doi: 10.1037/a0036001. PDF

Peterson, C., Wang, Q., & Hou, Y. (2009). “When I was little”: Childhood recollections in Chinese and European Canadian grade school children. Child Development, 80, 2, 506–518. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01275.x PDF

Wang, Q. (2006). Earliest recollections of self and others in European American and Taiwanese young adults. Psychological Science, 17, 8, 708-714. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2006.00432.x PDF

Wang, Q. (2003). Infantile amnesia reconsidered: A cross-cultural analysis. Memory, 11, 1, 65-80. doi: 10.1080/741938173 PDF

Wang, Q. (2001). Culture effects on adults' earliest childhood recollection and self-description: Implications for the relation between memory and the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 2, 220-233. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.81.2.220 PDF