Does everything happen when you are young? Introducing the Youth Bias

Jonathan Koppel, Dorthe Berntsen

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Abstract

The reminiscence bump refers to the disproportionate number of individuals’ autobiographical memories that date from young adulthood. A similar bump is found in cultural life scripts: When people are asked to nominate and date major transitional events in a typical life course in their culture, a disproportionate number of the events cited are likewise expected to occur in young adulthood. Across two online studies, we tested whether these effects reflect a broader tendency to ascribe most important events to young adulthood. Specifically, we probed, in adult USA samples, for when individuals expect the most important public event of a typical person's life to take place. Although the occurrence of such public events should be randomly distributed across the lifespan, we found a bump in young adulthood. We found this bump in both subjective (Study 1; probing cultural expectations for the expected timing of the public event that a typical person considers to be the most important of their lifetime) and objective (Study 2; probing cultural expectations for the expected timing of the objectively most important public event of a typical person's lifetime) conditions. We term this set of cultural expectations the youth bias and discuss its implications for human cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-423
Number of pages7
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A
Volume67
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • autobiographical memory
  • collective memory
  • cultural life scripts
  • reminiscence bump
  • youth bias

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