Developmental Science

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Volume 13 Issue 2 (March 2010), Pages 265-406

Age differences in the contribution of recollection and familiarity to false‐memory formation: a new paradigm to examine developmental reversals (pages 355-362)

Abstract

Using a new method for studying the development of false‐memory formation, we examined developmental differences in the rates at which 6‐, 7‐, 9‐, 10‐, and 18‐year‐olds made two types of memory errors: backward causal‐inference errors (i.e. falsely remembering having viewed the non‐viewed cause of a previously viewed effect), and gap‐filling errors (i.e. falsely remembering having viewed a script‐consistent event that was not actually witnessed). Previous research suggests that backward causal‐inference errors are supported by recollection, whereas gap‐filling errors are supported by familiarity. We hypothesized that age differences in these errors would parallel the developmental trajectories of these processes. As predicted, age‐related increases in backward causal‐inference errors were observed, while gap‐filling errors were age‐invariant, suggesting that recollection‐based memory distortions increase with age while familiarity‐based memory distortions are relatively stable from middle childhood through adulthood.

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