Men forget more than women: How the media can create stereotypes


A research article about gender differences in memory suggested that women have better subjective memory than men. In other words, men report more memory problems than women do. Once the media started reporting this finding, however, the story became convoluted. Reports upon reports stated that science had finally documented that men forget more than women, and this gave fuel to a stereotype that it is okay for men to forget things because “they can’t help it”. The encouragement of such a stereotype by the media is especially frightening considering that the research on which this news is based on does not actually measure memory at all!

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Upcoming publications and academic work

I am currently working on several projects that aim to be published in one form or another. I hope to have at least one major publication in place before I apply for a PhD, as this would improve my chances substantially. As this blog hopefully illustrates, however, it is not the only project underway:

1) Dissertation publication
Geoff Cole and myself have been working on submitting a revised version of my BSc dissertation to the EP journal. We submitted our first draft in October and are working on the second draft now.

Results from Experiment 1.

This publication mostly covers Experiment 1 from my dissertation, which focuses on the impact of evolutionary-related stimuli on object location memory. The paper will also be published under Luke Cannon’s name as he also gathered data, and possibly a fourth author who is replicating the experiment as we speak.

The paper is currently titled Sjoberg, Cole, & Cannon (in prep). Effects of foraging related stimuli on object location memory in the hunter-gatherer theory.

2) BPS Newsletter
I am writing an essay on the pitfalls of evolutionary psychology, which I hope to get published in the BPS Psychologists journal, probably under “New Voices”. The paper is in its final stages.

3) Review of Hunter-Gatherer theory for EHB
I received a “cautious invitation” to review the evidence for hunter-gatherer theory from the Evolution and Human Behavior (EHB) journal. If you are unfamiliar with the theory: it basically suggests that men have developed improved spatial abilities because they were hunters in early human settlements. By contrast, women were gatherers and have developed superior object location memory. I personally believe the theory to be flawed and contradictory, and use it as an example in some length in the BPS paper I am writing. After communicating with the editor of the EHB journal, I was allowed to write a review of the evidence for and against the hunter-gatherer theory. This invite is “cautious” because usually such invitations are somewhat prestigious and go straight to publication, but should I complete this paper it will be subject to normal peer review (which I of course prefer, anyway). As this is quite a large undertaking, the project will probably not be complete until well into next year.

Espen at the BPS UG Conference in Glasgow, March 2012. Photo by Rachael Wilner.

4) Presentations
Following the Glasgow presentation last year I am planning to present the BSc dissertation results at the following conferences:

BPS Annual Conference, York, UK (April, 2013)

EHBES Annual Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands (March, 2013)

HBES Annual Conference, Miami, US (June, 2013)

However, the presentations are subject to availability, schedules and finance (traveling is expensive – especially to US), so I may not go to all of these. I do hope to attend at least one!