Memory falsification in children: A developmental study of spontaneous and implanted false memories
AdvisorBrainerd, Charles J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractStimulated by applied concerns, the literature on children's false memories has proliferated for the past decade. Two different types of memory falsification have been identified: spontaneous and implanted. The former results from endogenous distortion processes, and, the later arises exogenously through accidental or deliberate suggestion or misinformation. This study is the first to look at developmental trends in children's memory falsification comparing spontaneous and implanted false memories under similar conditions, by introducing a new experimental paradigm. Two age groups participated in this study: (1) 50 first and second graders, and (2) 49 seventh and eighth graders. Children first studied 42 sentences about everyday events. Either in the same day or a week later, misinformation was presented by replacing some of the original sentences with misleading ones. Children's memory was assessed by both an immediate and a one-week delayed forced-choice recognition test. The test choices included original items and unpresented items, some of which were related to the originals. Item repetition was manipulated within and between tests. Results indicated that children's memories were susceptible to the effects of misinformation. Developmentally, true memory reports increased with age, but there were no age differences in children's false report rates. The comparison between spontaneous and implanted false memories under specific experimental manipulations yielded the following results: (1) Memory accuracy was greater when children were tested immediately following study; (2) the misinformation effect was greater with delay; (3) within-test repeated questioning generated neither gains nor losses in memory accuracy; (4) a prior test produced a gain in memory accuracy on a week-later test only for older children; (5) implanted false memories were preserved across a one-week forgetting interval better than spontaneous false memories, and this effect increased with age. Different theoretical accounts of memory falsification were analyzed in light of the results. Fuzzy-trace theory provided new explanations that could account for the data by assuming that different classes of memory representations about experienced events--verbatim and gist--are retrieved on memory tests.
Degree ProgramGraduate College