Peterson, C., Smorti, A., & Tani, F. (2008). Parental influences on earliest memories. Memory, 16, 569-578.


Recently, independent lines of research have indirectly supported the notion that social variables, especially parent-child relationships, have a significant impact on adults' memories of their early life. In order to directly assess this, Italian students were asked to recall as many memories involving parents as they could from before the age of 6 in a 3-minute timed recall task (i.e., memory fluency). They also filled out assessments about parental involvement in their lives as well as the quality of their relationships with their mothers and fathers. We found that for males, the more involved the parents and the warmer the relationships between sons and both their mothers and their fathers, the more early memories, the more positive early memories, and the more episodic memories men recalled. For women, the warmer the relationship with their mothers, the earlier their earliest memory. Results are discussed in terms of gendered parent-child interactions as well as McAdam's emergent life-story theory.