Backward and forward associative strength in children's false recall for DRM and categorial word list / by Nadine M. Gagnon.
Gagnon, Nadine Michele
MetadataShow full item record
Recent findings with children and adults propose that the developmental increase in the DRM false memory illusion is not related to children's increased ability to process relational meaning across list items as proposed by Fuzzy-trace theory (FTT). These studies show that the effects of semantic information are limited to true memories. Unlike the propositions of FTT, this suggests that false memories do not benefit from this type of information. Previous research with adults has demonstrated that the DRM false memory illusion using recall tasks is strongly related to DRM lists' backward associative strength (BAS). However, the role of lists' associative strength has not yet been examined on children's false recall. This study sought to examine the role of associative strength on children's false recall using the DRM paradigm and to further examine the role of semantic information on children's true and false memories. Children with the ages of 5, 7, and 11 years, studied and recalled 12 (6 DRM, 6 category) word lists with varying backward and forward associative strengths. To examine the role of semantic information, half of the children in each age group were provided with descriptive labels prior to list presentation. Results indicated that children’s false recall of category and DRM lists were effected by different variations of associative strength, where the highest rates of false recall was obtained from DRM lists with high backward- high forward associative strength, and category lists with high backward-low forward associative strength. This also varied within each age group. Children’s true and false recall benefited from descriptive labels. However, the increase in false memories can be attributed to the strong associative relations between the descriptive label and the critical lures of category lists. When associative relations between descriptive labels and critical lures were low, as in DRM lists, there was no beneficiary effect of labels on false recall. These results suggests that as in adults, children’s false memories occur as a result of associative activation, whether from backward or forward associative links with list items or descriptive labels. This is in line with false memory theories based on network models of semantic knowledge (such as activation/monitoring theory), where falsely reporting the critical lure within the DRM paradigm results from its activation through highly related list items. Children’s increased susceptibility to the false memory illusion may be related to an increased automaticity in processing associative relations between list items and the lure rather than an increased ability to extract meaning across list items.