What can you remember from last time? – the effects of cultural information on long term memory in kindergarteners
In the present study, we explored a specific aspect of cultural learning. Namely, the way in which cultural group affiliation (in this case, the language spoken), of the person transmitting the information may affect children's long-term memory. The kindergarteners participate in a two-session game.
During the first session, either a Hungarian or Italian/French speaker presents the children a short series of steps (e.g, they ring a bell in a box using a toothbrush cover hidden under a cylinder in another box). A week later, the children return to the lab to try out the same objects the adult used during the first session.
Our goal was to find out the degree to which children can recall the different steps from the week prior. In addition, we used a control group of children, who could try out the objects straight away, without the 7-day hiatus. We were interested whether there would be any differences between the two groups. We hypothesised, that children in the experimental group would remember fewer details after a week, if the “teacher” spoke in a different language. On the other, we expected this effect to disappear if the children had the chance to try out the objects straight away.
The results appeared to support our hypotheses: although there is not much difference, children remembered more details following a week, if the teacher spoke in their mother tongue (66% for mother tongue and 55% for foreign language on average respectively). If there was no delay in the children being able to try out the objects, then the language spoken by the presenter had no significant effect. Therefore, it appears that learning from people from various cultural backgrounds is flexible in 4-year-old kindergarteners. However, in cases of long-term acquisition, a kind of selection appears, in which more details are preserved when information is shared by an ingroup member.