Research reveals why men are more forgetful

Big Society

8 June 2015

Science has finally proven what many have long suspected – that men are more forgetful than women.

Aston University research has revealed that women are better at remembering to perform and fulfil future tasks and plans.

In the study, a 100 men and women were given memory tasks over two minute periods, 15 minutes and 24 hours.  The women participating in the test were found to excel at remembering to perform tasks that involved doing, rather than saying, something in the future. They were also better than men at remembering activities linked to events rather than to a specific time.

Dr Liana Palermo, who led the investigation, also found that both genders struggled to remember events in the distant future.

Activities as simple as remembering to buy milk after work or passing on a message when a friend calls are examples of women’s ability to remember to undertake tasks. It is believed that gender differences in this kind of memory may be linked to differences in hormones or difference in some brain structures. Previous research findings suggest that a brain structure is important for memory (eg, hippocampus) decreases in volume in men, but not in women, between the age of 20 and 40.

Alternatively, Dr Palermo, a Marie Curie Research Fellow in the School of Life and Health Sciences, said: “In addition to work responsibilities, women have generally had more responsibilities at home too. As a consequence of this social role, in daily life women might perform tasks involving prospective memory and planning skills more than men, thus enhancing their performance in remembering to remember.”

Find the published research here.


For further media information, please contact Naheeda Akhtar, University Communications on 0121 204 5004 or n.akhtar18@aston.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

Palermo, L., Cinelli, M.C., Piccardi, L., Ciurli, P., Incoccia, C., Zompanti, L., Guariglia, C. (2015). Women outperform men in remembering to remember. The quarterly journal of experimental psychology, 8: 1-10.