Are attentional resources a mediator for sex differences in memory?

Ilmiye Seçer, Yüksel Yılmazoğulları
Published Online:
29 Nov 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 2

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The divided attention paradigm was used to investigate sex differences in encoding and retrieval processes of memory. Participants performed a memory and reaction time (RT) task under full attention and two divided attention conditions, that is, at encoding and retrieval. Results revealed that females recalled significantly more words than males under the full attention and divided attention at encoding conditions. Results further showed that secondary task costs were larger for males than females during divided attention at retrieval. Furthermore, regardless of sex, recall was best under full attention and worst under divided attention at encoding conditions. In relation to the RT task, RTs were shorter under full attention and longer under the divided attention at retrieval condition. Overall, these results show that females recall more words than males possibly due to a more severe effect of reduced attention during encoding than retrieval for males. The current findings thus suggest that a reduction in attentional resources may mediate sex‐related decreases in word recall.

© 2014 International Union of Psychological Science