Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 34 Issue 1 (January/February 2016), Pages 1-245

When Parents Know Little about What Happened: Parent‐guided Conversations, Stress, and Young Children's Eyewitness Memory (pages 10-29)

This study examined how 4‐ to 7‐year‐olds' memories for a stressor were influenced by conversations with a parent who had little knowledge of the target event, and the stress children experienced before, during, and after the event. Children (N = 43) watched a mildly stressful video before talking about it with a parent. Parents were asked to focus on either the children's feelings or the content of the video itself. A researcher interviewed the children about their memory following the conversation. Behavioral and physiological measures of children's stress were collected at multiple stages. Children recalled more inaccurate information with the parent than with the interviewer. Younger age and parent insecure attachment were associated with poorer memory. Manipulation of parents' emotion orientation did not predict memory, but individual differences in the talk did, although in different ways from what would be expected from research on conversations about shared events. Less stress (according to self‐reported happiness and observed negative affect) before and after, but not during, the stressor was linked with better memory. Implications for children's memory in legal settings are discussed. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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