Childhood memory and self-description in young Chinese adults: the impact of growing up an only child

Author: Wang, Q.; Leichtman, M.D.; White, S.H.

Description: This study examined the relationship between self-description and childhood memory in 255 Chinese young adults. Ninety-nine participants were from only child families and 156 had siblings. All participants completed two questionnaires: a version of the Twenty Statements Test of Kuhn and McPartland (Kuhn, M.H., McPartland, T.S., 1954. An empirical investigation of self-attitudes. American Sociological Review 19, 68-76) eliciting self-descriptions, and an instrument asking for earliest and other childhood memories. Based on theories positing a relationship between autobiography and the organization of the self, we predicted differences on both measures between only- and sibling-child participants. Findings indicated that compared with sibling children, only children had more private and fewer collective self-descriptions, earlier first memories, more specific and more self-focused memories. In addition, autobiographical measures were influenced by cohort, gender, preschool attendance, and urban/rural family effects. Findings are discussed in terms of literature on autobiography, the self and childhood in China.

Subject headings: Adolescent; Adult; China; Female; Humans; Male; Memory; Only Child–psychology; Self Concept; Self-Assessment

Publication year: 1998

Journal or book title: Cognition

Volume: 69

Issue: 1

Pages: 73-103

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 37