Most people have best memories by age 25, study finds

New research from the University of New Hampshire says the most important memories of our lives are made by the age of 25.

University study finds marriage and having children most important memories

Having children is one of the most important memories in people's lives, a new study from the University of New Hampshire found. (iStock)

New research says the most important memories of our lives are made by the age of 25.

This is common knowledge in psychology circles, said Kristina Steiner, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of New Hampshire and the study's lead researcher. However, this study is different. 

The 26-year-old said previous studies asked leading questions, such as "tell me what happened when you were 25?" 

"When I interviewed participants I really just sat down and I said, 'tell me your life story,' and they went from there," Steiner told guest host of Saskatoon Morning Dan Kerslake. "They got to organize how they told their story." 

It makes sense, when you consider those events, that a lot of their memories were before the age of 25.- Kristina Steiner, doctoral student in psychology at UNH

Researchers asked 34 people, between 59 to 92 years old, to tell their life stories in 30 minutes. All participants were were white and 76 per cent had an undergraduate degree.

A week later, study participants were asked to divide their life stories into chapters. 

The study found that when asked to tell their life stories, participants listed life transitions — like marriage and having children — as their most important memories. The study also found that most people divide their life stories into chapters defined by universal moments — such as a move, university, first job, marriage and having children. 

"It makes sense, when you consider those events, that a lot of their memories were before the age of 25," she said.

The next generation

However, the results could be different for Generation X and Y.

"For my particular generation, it would be interesting to interview us once we get old enough," she said. "Perhaps our reminiscence might be a little bit later in the life span because we tend to hit those kind of culturally sanctioned events later in life."


Replay the Saskatoon Morning live chat below about this study, or if you'd like to weigh in, leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Join online host Matt Kruchak from Monday to Friday between 6-8:45 a.m. on cbc.ca/saskatoon for a lively and engaging live chat. While chatting, tune into Saskatoon Morning on 94.1 FM with host Leisha Grebinski.

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