Adult prospective memory and executive function performance: a cross-cultural comparison of Chinese and Canadian college students




Chang, Julie (I-Chu)

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Prospective memory (ProM) is the ability people use to realize earlier-formed intentions at a delayed time. It has been proposed to be heavily reliant executive functions, as it shares many of its characteristic attributes, including working memory as well as planning and organizational abilities. Cross-cultural literature on executive functions (EF) has previously established evidence of advanced executive functioning in East Asian children when compared to age- and educationally-matched Western counterparts. Given the close association between ProM and EF, it is surmised that East Asians may also display an advantage in this specific memory type, and that this trend would continue into early adulthood when cognitive abilities typically have matured. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to investigate whether or not Mainland Chinese adults would display the same advantage in ProM when compared to Canadian adults. Analyses indicated that the Canadians did show significant disadvantage in ProM performance despite similar executive-functioning performances. The ProM findings are discussed in terms of potential psychometric inequity but also include accounts of cultural distinctions in neural and visual processing. The contradictory results in EF and ProM are explained in relation to socio-cultural differences and limitations in the present study design.



prospective memory, culture, executive functions