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Children's memory of an occurrence of a repeated event: effects of age, repetition, and retention interval across three question types
journal contributionposted on 01.10.1996, 00:00 authored by Martine Powell, Don ThomsonDon Thomson
Children's memory of the final occurrence of a repeated event was examined whereby each occurrence had the same underlying structure but included unpredictable variations in the specific instantiations of items across the series. The event was administered by the children's teachers at the kindergarten or school. The effects of repetition (single vs. repeated event), age (4-5 vs. 6-8-year-olds), retention interval (1 week vs. 6 weeks), and the frequency of specific instantiations of items were examined across 3 question types. Repetition increased the number of items recalled on a level that was common to all occurrences in response to general probes and reduced the likelihood that children would report details that did not occur in the event. However, repetition also reduced the number of correct responses about which instantiation was included in the occurrence and decreased the consistency of responses across repeated questioning. Most errors were intrusions of details from other occurrences; usually references to instantiations of items that had occurred frequently throughout the series. The younger children showed a poorer ability to discriminate between the occurrences than the older children, but age differences were less evident at the longer retention interval. The results are discussed in relation to current theories of memory and children's eyewitness testimony.