British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 13 Issue 4 (November 1995), Pages 321-432

Children's discrimination of memories for actual and pretend actions in a hiding task (pages 321-333)

Previous research has demonstrated that when memories are derived from similar sources children may have difficulty identifying the correct source of a particular memory. For example, young children who have carried out some actions and pretended to carry out similar actions may, at a later time, fail to distinguish which actions were actually carried out and which actions were only imagined. In the present experiment 3‐, 4‐, 6‐year‐olds and adults carried out a hiding task—they were asked to hide counters under objects on a table, or only pretend to hide counters under other objects on the same table. Participants were given a surprise memory test, five minutes or three days after the hiding task, to assess their ability to distinguish real and pretend hiding places. Contrary to previous research there were few age differences in the participants' ability to distinguish memories of real from memories of pretend actions — children and adults performed similarly. There was some, limited, evidence that all age groups were more likely to confuse real and pretend hiding places when memory was tested after a delay of three days than after a delay of five minutes.

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