The Role of Event Plausibility and Age in Children's Recall and Suggestibility.

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Title: The Role of Event Plausibility and Age in Children's Recall and Suggestibility.
Author: Brown, Benjamin Thomas
Advisors: Jason Allaire, Committee Member
Lynne Baker-Ward, Committee Chair
Daniel Bauer, Committee Member
Abstract: Although a good deal of research suggests that what we know affects what we remember, very little of this research looks at development through childhood. Children remember more as they grow older (Ornstein, Baker-Ward, Gordon & Merritt, 1997). As children gain more experience and expertise, they may also be developing an understanding of event plausibility. It was predicted that event plausibility moderates the relationships between knowledge and recall and between knowledge and suggestibility. Fuzzy trace theory (Reyna & Brainerd, 1995) has shown that older children are better than their younger counterparts in using gist memory. Gist memories are integrated into prior knowledge, preserving only the central concepts of an event. If older children rely more on gist, which is meaningfully connected to knowledge, it may explain why they would be better able to understand event plausibility. The present research provided younger and older children with knowledge of a novel animal, namely a chinchilla. These children were later read a story about one such chinchilla. This story featured events that would be plausible or implausible given knowledge of the animal. Children were then tested for the recall and suggestibility for the story one day or one week later. In general, plausible events were better recalled than implausible events, and plausible misleading questions led to more suggestibility than implausible questions. As would be expected, age served as a good predictor of recall and suggestibility, with older children displaying better recall and decreased susceptibility to suggestion than younger children. As expected, delay also served as a good predictor of memory and suggestibility, with better recall and less suggestibility in the short delay than the longer delay. There was some evidence that knowledge was activated to a greater extent in the older children as they made their memory judgments. Older children were more susceptible to plausible suggestion over time and less susceptible to implausible suggestion, while younger children displayed increases in suggestibility to both question types. Due to the limitations of the current design, a full understanding of how age, delay, and plausibility interact is still to come. Future research may shed further light on how an understanding of event plausibility develops across the childhood years, and how this development affects children's recall and suggestibility.
Date: 2004-11-10
Degree: MS
Discipline: Psychology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/1528


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