What I Value and Why I Remember: Values and the Functions of Memory in a Trinidadian Lifespan Sample


  • Nicole Alea
  • Sideeka Ali
  • Mary Jane Arneaud


This study examined whether values predict the functional uses of memory by culture (ethnicity) and life phase. Participants were Trinidadian adults (N = 294) ranging from 18 to 81 years old, and representative of the island’s three major ethnic groups: Afro-, Indo-, mixed-Trinidadian. Values were assessed as conservation (valuing tradition), self-transcendence (valuing social welfare), and self-enhancement (valuing achievement). Three functions of autobiographical memory were assessed: self-continuity, directing-behavior, and social-bonding. Values predicted functions: conservation and self-transcendence were positively related to the directing-behavior function, and conservation was positively related to using memory for social-bonding. Ethnicity and age moderated some relations. The positive relation between self-transcendence and the directing-behavior function existed for both Indo- and Afro-Trinidadians but not for mixed-Trinidadians. The positive relation between conser-vation and the social-bonding function existed for both young and older adults but not middle-aged adults. The discussion highlights the importance of examining how values press upon people of different cultures and age groups to use memory in particular ways, addresses limitations, and suggests that future work on the value-function link includes longitudinal and experimental work as well as individuals of mixed cultural heritage.






Special Section: Reminiscence through a Cultural Lens