Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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

Developmental Differences across Middle Childhood in Memory and Suggestibility for Negative and Positive Events (pages 30-54)

In the present study, we investigated age differences in children's eyewitness memory and suggestibility for negative and positive events that children often experience during middle childhood. We first examined 216 ratings by children aged 8–12 years of the frequency and intensity of personal negative and positive experiences (Study 1). Based on those ratings, videotapes depicting the most frequent and intense negative (an accident) and positive (a family excursion) events were developed. A new sample of 227 children aged 8–12 years was tested for recognition memory of the videotapes using the three‐stage post‐event misinformation procedure (Study 2). Compared with 8‐ to 9‐year‐olds, 10‐ to 12‐year‐olds exhibited less memory malleability and less compliance with false information. Age improvements in recognition accuracy were also evident for children who watched the negative event, but not for those who watched the positive event. Compliance predicted misinformation effects, particularly in regard to peripheral details. Thus, using ecologically representative emotional events, age differences in suggestibility and memory accuracy emerged, especially for negative events.Theoretical and forensic implications concerning children's eyewitness memory and suggestibility are discussed. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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