Qi Wang (psychologist)

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Qi Wang (Chinese: 王琪) is a Chinese-born American psychologist serving as professor and chair of the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. She is known for her study of autobiographical memory and culture. Qi Wang is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Psychonomic Society. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Cognitive Development Society, the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, and the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. She serves on many editorial boards and is currently Associate Editor for Memory and Culture and Brain. She is the director of the Culture & Social Cognition Lab.


Qi Wang was born and raised in Chongqing, China. Having both parents being engineers, her choice of becoming a psychologist was influenced by her aunt, a psychology professor at a Chinese university.[1] Wang received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Peking University. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in psychology (with a minor in anthropology) in 2000 at Harvard University. Her academic advisors were Michelle Leichtman and Sheldon White. Wang’s dissertation, “Culture, self, and emotion: An integrative perspective on the development of autobiographical memory,” won the James McKeen Cattell Award for outstanding dissertation in psychology from the New York Academy of Sciences. She subsequently joined the Cornell Human Development faculty as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 2011.


Wang proposes a cultural dynamic theory of memory, arguing that memory is not simply a product of the mind or brain but instead a social-cultural construction.[2] Her research reveals that people from different cultures often show diverse ways of remembering their past experiences: They differ in what to remember, how to remember, and why to remember it. These cultural differences in memory emerge early in childhood and persist across the lifespan. Her work further shows that these differences stem from the influences of a variety of cultural elements such as cultural self-construal, perceptual encoding, emotion cognition, and mnemonic practices.

Wang also works on childhood amnesia (or infantile amnesia), a phenomenon in which adults show inability to recall memories from the earliest years of life.[3] She and Carole Peterson observed that when remembering early childhood experiences, both children and adults systematically date the events at later ages than they actually were - a telescoping bias.[4] [5] [6] This finding has critical implications for the theoretical explanation for childhood amnesia. Furthermore, her research reveals cultural differences in childhood amnesia, whereby Westerners recall earlier, more self-focused, and more emotionally laden childhood memories than do East Asians.[7]

In addition to memory, Wang has undertaken extensive studies to examine future thinking, self-concept, and emotion knowledge in cultural contexts, the influence of the Internet and social media on memory reconstruction, and the relation of socio-cognitive processes to psychological well-being.[8][9][10][11]

Given the pivotal role of culture in shaping mind and behavior, Wang urges psychologists to take culture into account in their research so as to eliminate culture-bound biases and build a true psychological science.[12] Using a multi-level analysis approach, her research demonstrates the many ways in which culture and mind interact.[13]


Wang has frequently published in scientific journals and in volumes of collected works.[14][15] Her single-authored book, The Autobiographical Self in Time and Culture,[16] is regarded as a definitive work on culture and autobiographical memory.[17] Her work has been covered in the popular press.[18][19][20][21]

Wang has received the Young Scientist Award from the International Society for Study of Behavioral Development (2006), the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Early Research from the Society for Research in Child Development (2005), and the Outstanding Contribution to Research Award from SRCD Asian Caucus (2013).


  1. ^ "The Memories of Memory Researchers". APS Observer. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  2. ^ Wang, Qi (2016). "Remembering the self in cultural contexts: A cultural dynamic theory of autobiographical memory". Memory Studies. 9 (3): 295–304. doi:10.1177/1750698016645238.
  3. ^ Wang, Qi; Gülgöz, Sami (2019). "New perspectives on childhood memory [Special issue]". Memory. 27 (1).
  4. ^ Wang, Qi; Peterson, Carole (2014). "Your earliest memory may be earlier than you think: Prospective studies of children's dating of earliest childhood memories". Developmental Psychology. 50 (6): 1680–6. doi:10.1037/a0036001. PMID 24588518.
  5. ^ Wang, Qi; Peterson, Caole (2016). "The fate of childhood memories: Children postdated their earliest memories as they grew older". Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition. 6:2038: 2038. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02038. PMC 4709485. PMID 26793149.
  6. ^ Wang, Qi; Peterson, Carole; Khuu, Angel; Reid, C.P.; Maxwell, K.L.; Vincent, J.M. (2019). "Looking at the past through a telescope: Adults postdated their earliest childhood memories". Memory. 27 (1): 19–27. doi:10.1080/09658211.2017.1414268. PMID 29233056.
  7. ^ Wang, Qi (2003). "Infantile amnesia reconsidered: A cross-cultural analysis". Memory. 11 (1): 65–80. doi:10.1080/741938173. PMID 12653489.
  8. ^ Wang, Qi; Koh, Jessie (2015). "How will things be the next time? Self in the construction of future events among school-aged children". Consciousness and Cognition. 36: 131–138. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2015.06.013. PMID 26141661.
  9. ^ Jiang, Tongling; Hou, Yubo; Wang, Qi (2016). "Does micro-blogging make us "shallow"? Sharing information online interferes with information comprehension". Computers in Human Behavior. 59: 210–214. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.008.
  10. ^ Wang, Qi; Hou, Yubo; Koh, Jessie; Song, Qingfang; Yang, Yang (2018). "Culturally motivated remembering: The moderating role of culture for the relation of episodic memory to well-being". Clinical Psychological Science. 6 (6): 860–871. doi:10.1177/2167702618784012.
  11. ^ Yang, Yang; Wang, Qi (2016). "The relation of emotion knowledge to coping in European American and Chinese immigrant children". Journal of Child and Family Studies. 25 (2): 452–463. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0224-5.
  12. ^ Wang, Qi (2016). "Why should we all be cultural psychologists? Lessons from the study of social cognition". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 11 (5): 583–596. doi:10.1177/1745691616645552. PMC 5119767.
  13. ^ Wang, Qi (2018). "Studying cognitive development in cultural context: A multi-level analysis approach". Developmental Review. 50: 54–64. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2018.03.002.
  14. ^ "Selected publications". Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Google Scholar". Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  16. ^ Wang, Qi (2013). The autobiographical self in time and culture. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199345014.
  17. ^ McGovern, T.V. (2014). "Thriving with stories that survive". PsycCRITIQUES. 59 (6): Article 5. doi:10.1037/a0035307.
  18. ^ "Every Retweet Costs Your Brain A Little -- And The Bill Adds Up". Forbes. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "Why Watching Silly Cat Videos Is Good for You: Researchers find social media has benefits; sharing events can make you remember them better". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  20. ^ "The mystery of why you can't remember being a baby". BBC future. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  21. ^ "Why Americans are obsessed with telling their own stories". PBS. Retrieved March 6, 2015.