Cultural differences in autobiographical memory of trauma

Laura Jobson, Richard T. O'Kearney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study investigated cultural differences in autobiographical memory of trauma. Australian and Asian international students provided self-defining memories, narratives of everyday and trauma memories and self-reports assessing adjustment to the trauma. No cultural distinction was found in how Australian or Asian subjects remembered a personal traumatic event in terms of the memory's theme, degree of autonomous content or proportion of references to self or others. In contrast, cultural differences were found in the relationship between disrupted adjustment to trauma and trauma-themed self-definition, with disrupted adjustment to the trauma being related to stronger self-definition centred on trauma for Australian but not for Asian subjects. These findings are discussed in terms of memory and self in autobiographical memories, a questioning of the universal applicability of clinical cognitive models of posttraumatic stress disorder, and clinical implications of such findings such as cultural considerations of self in assessment and treatment in cognitive therapy for posttraumatic distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Cite this