Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Adults' Childhood Recollections: How are Peak-Experiences Described in China and Portugal?

Man Yee Ho, Sylvia Xiaohua Chen, Edward Hoffman, Yanjun Guan, Valentina Iversen

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Peak experiences are joyous and fulfilling moments in life, and thought to be associated with happiness and well-being. However, whether peak experiences vary from culture to culture is still under-researched. The current study investigated the autobiographical memories of peak experiences in Portugal and China. College students from Portugal and Mainland China (N = 161) reported their memory of a peak-experience occurring before the age of 14 and provided a self-rating on its enduring impact. We found that participants from Portugal reported peak-experiences involving a developmental landmark more frequently than did Mainland Chinese. In contrast, Mainland Chinese reported peak-experiences involving serenity more frequently than did Portuguese participants. Although Mainland Chinese provided more details about their peak-experiences, their narratives were more generic and emotionally mild. In particular, memory specificity (specific vs. general) significantly mediated the association between culture and developmental landmark, whereas memory emotionality (low arousal emotions) significantly mediated the link between culture and serenity. This study extends previous research on youthful peak-experiences to a cross-cultural context by incorporating measures of autobiographical memory to analyze variations between these two cultural groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-197
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood autobiographical memories
  • China
  • Culture
  • Peak-experiences
  • Portugal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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