Planting False Childhood Memories: The Role of Event Plausibility

  • Pezdek K
  • Finger K
  • Hodge D
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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. 19 57 yr olds and 20 912 yr old children were read descriptions of 2 true events and 2 false events, reported to have occurred when they were 4 yrs 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 1 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. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)

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