The reminiscence bump refers to the disproportionate number of individuals´ autobiographical memories which date from young adulthood. A similar bump is found in cultural life scripts: When people are asked to nominate and date major transitional events in a typical life course in their culture, a disproportionate number of the events cited are likewise expected to occur in young adulthood. Across two online studies, we tested whether these effects reflect a broader tendency to ascribe most important events to young adulthood. Specifically, we probed, in adult USA samples, for when individuals expect the most important public event of a typical person’s life to take place. Although the occurrence of such public events should be randomly distributed across the lifespan, we found a bump in young adulthood. We found this bump in both subjective (Study 1; probing cultural expectations for the expected timing of the public event that a typical person considers to be the most important of their lifetime) and objective (Study 2; probing cultural expectations for the expected timing of the objectively most important public event of a typical person’s lifetime) conditions. We term this set of cultural expectations the youth bias and discuss its implications for human cognition.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2014, Vol 67, Issue 3, p. 417-423