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Planting False Childhood Memories in Children: The Role of Event Plausibility

Kathy Pezdek and Danelle Hodge
Child Development
Vol. 70, No. 4 (Jul. - Aug., 1999), pp. 887-895
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1132249
Page Count: 9
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Planting False Childhood Memories in Children: The Role of Event Plausibility
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Abstract

This experiment tested and supported the hypothesis that events will be suggestively planted in children's memory to the degree that the suggested event is plausible and script-relevant knowledge exists in memory. Nineteen 5- to 7-year-old children and 20 9- to 12-year-old children were read descriptions of two true events and two false events, reported to have occurred when they were 4 years old. One false event described the child lost in a mall while shopping (the plausible false event); the other false event described the child receiving a rectal enema (the implausible false event). The majority of the 39 children (54%) did not remember either false event. However, whereas 14 children recalled the plausible but not the implausible false event, only one child recalled the implausible but not the plausible false event; this difference was statistically significant. Three additional children (all in the younger age group) recalled both false events. Although this pattern of results was consistent for both age groups, the differences were significant for the younger children only. A framework is outlined specifying the cognitive processes underlying suggestively planting false events in memory.

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