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Remember This

by Stephen Lautens


August 2, 2002

In the category of "Scientific Research That Proves The Obvious", an American university professor has completed a study that shows women are better at recalling emotional memories than men.

A dozen men and women were each shown a series of photos designed to create an emotional response. This was done while their heads were stuck inside a machine that showed how their brains reacted. Not surprisingly, women's brains not only reacted more strongly, but they were also able to remember their emotional feelings more clearly later on.

Somewhat unfairly, one of the photos they showed the men and women in the study was of a toilet that needed cleaning. Women reacted with a strong emotional response, but it had no effect on the men. You really can't blame them, since no man has ever cleaned a toilet before.

More to the point, the results also support the idea that women have a truer memory of domestic disputes than men.

Well - as Einstein said - duh. I hope they didn't blow a bundle on the study. Ask any woman and she could tell you the same thing. Ask any man - preferably during a commercial break - and he'll admit that he's hopelessly outgunned in any marital dispute. A woman has at her fingertips all the facts and figures about important events in their domestic life together. They are a veritable Rolodex of our failings, slights and bone-headed statements.

Everything comes out when men and women argue. Effortlessly, women can summon up dates, excuses we men have tried, and every lame promise we've made. Not only can they remember what we have argued about in the past, they can remember what we were wearing at the time, for God's sake. On the other hand, while a man may search his memory and recall a particular event as a large party with free booze and their girlfriend in some kind of dress, we may unfortunately forget the important detail that it was actually the day we got married.

Men are better at other types of memory, like which of our friends bought the last round, or Bret Hull's rookie year stats. We also don't get worked up about the little things like jobs, money or where we left the car. Maybe it helps to think of us as turtles - slow, hard shell and asleep for half the year.

Take this small test yourself: what's the name of your cousin's second wife? If you're a man, the answer is: "I have a cousin?"

If you're a woman, the answer is: "Her name is Alice, and you should know that because we went to the wedding six years ago and you complained every minute of it, except for when I caught you ogling that bleached blond bridesmaid. Her favourite colour is blue, her birthday is May 10, and her childhood pet's name was Mr. Winky."

And that's just what she can remember about your cousin's wife. Imagine the goods she has stored up about you. It would make the FBI's file on Bin Laden look like a Post-It Note.

But being able to remember all of this emotional stuff comes with a price if you're a woman. The study also suggested that a side effect of all this is that women tend to get depressed more easily because they can remember and relive emotional events more vividly.

Besides, if you had to live with a man, wouldn't you be depressed?

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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