Women are better than men at memorising things in certain respects, according to a new study.
Psychologists Agneta Herlitz and Jenny Rehnman in Stockholm, Sweden, have discovered that women can excel in verbal episodic memory tasks like remembering words, objects, pictures or everyday events.
The researchers have also found that men can outperform women in remembering symbolic, non-linguistic information, known as visuospatial processing. According to them, this result indicates that a man is more likely to remember his way out of the woods than a woman.
However, their study also suggests that women are more likely than men to remember the location of car keys, which involves both verbal and visuospatial processing.
"In addition, women are better than men at remembering faces, especially of females, and the reason seems to be that women allocate more attention to female than to male faces," say Herlitz and Rehnman.
In the course of the study, three groups of participants were presented with black and white pictures of hairless, androgynous faces. The researchers described the pictures as that of 'female faces', 'male faces' or just 'faces'.
It was found that women were able to remember the androgynous faces presented as female more accurately than the androgynous faces presented as male.
The researchers also discovered that women performed better than men in tasks requiring little to no verbal processing, such as recognition of familiar odours. They said that the female episodic memory advantage increased when women utilized verbal abilities, while it decreased when visuospatial abilities were required.
The researcher duo believes that environmental factors, such as education, also seem to influence the magnitude of these sex differences. They concede that the probability of genetically-based differences between the quality of male and female memory is still unknown.