Men Forget More Than Women

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It’s a mystery: men report their memory is worse than women.

A new study finds for the first time that men, on average, think they are more forgetful than women.

The results come from a large study of 48,000 people, conducted in Norway (Holmen et al., 2013).

In the study, people were asked nine questions about how good they think their memory is.

The questions asked included:

  • Whether they had problems remembering names and dates.
  • How good they were at remembering details of conversations.
  • If they could remember what they were doing one year ago.

For eight of the nine questions men reported more problems with their memory.

Professor Jostein Holmen, the lead author of the study, explained the results:

“It was surprising to see that men forget more than women. This has not been documented before. It was also surprising to see that men are just as forgetful whether they are 30 or 60 years old. The results were unambiguous.”

The explanation for these findings is beyond them. Holmen said:

“We have speculated a lot about why men report more frequent problems with remembering than women do, but have not been able to find an explanation. This is still an unsolved mystery.”

Across all the categories of questions it was names and dates that people found the hardest to remember.

Naturally the study only looks at people’s perception of how good or bad their memory is–it is not an objective measure.

Still, the importance of looking at subject memory impairment is to see if it might predict cognitive problems in the future, like dementia.

Image credit: Daniela Vladimirova

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 25 January 2014

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