Women are better than men at remembering to remember

Posted on May 23, 2015

Photo: flickr

Past research suggested women tend to be more prone to forgetting future tasks than men. Women also admitted that they tend to have more memory failures however this does not mean that they actually forget more often.

Prospective memory is about remembering to remember at the right time to do something. Liana Palermo and her team conducted a carefully controlled objective test of prospective memory under laboratory conditions. They found that there were no gender differences in performance when given various tasks to remember to complete over a 2 minutes, 15 minutes and 24 hour time scale. Women are generally better than men at remembering to perform future tasks that were tied to events rather than a specific delay. Ie. Performing Tasks X when you are given a card vs Performing the task X in two minutes. The women also tended to outperform men on future tasks which are physical in nature like writing their address on a postcard vs verbal like remembering to ask a specific question.

This result can be due to women’s other cognitive advantages like having superior verbal skills than men. The instructions in this study was also delivered verbally.

However, this experiment might lack in realism since it was studied in the laboratory. The results are similar to other research findings that female has an advantage for prospective memory and episodic memory. This new study suggest the possibly that women might be better at detecting their forgetfulness thus they admit to more prospective memory failures.


Category(s):Men's Issues, Women's Issues

Source material from British Psychological Society


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