British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 4 (November 1987), Pages 299-394

The role of context in young children's memory performance: Istomina revisited (pages 333-341)

According to more recent studies on memory development in young children, preschoolers and kindergarteners are able to demonstrate surprisingly good memory skills in natural as well as in laboratory‐type settings. This finding is not consistent with the results of a study by Istomina (1975), conducted in 1948, leading to the conclusion that (a) preschoolers do not use voluntary remembering, and (b) children generally recall better in play situations than in typical experimental settings. In this study, two experiments were conducted to replicate Istomina's research. In the first, it was shown that Istomina's findings were replicable when methodological problems in the procedure were ignored. Experiment 2 improved methodologically upon Istomina's experimental methods and did not produce results to support her conclusions. Four‐ and 6‐year‐olds showed voluntary memory in play activities as well as in laboratory‐type settings, and remembered equally well in both contexts. The results did not support the assumption that memory performance in young children can be substantially facilitated by motivating contexts.

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