Factors that Influence Adults' False Memories also Influence Children's False Memories
The primary aim of this thesis was to investigate whether Mazzoni et al.'s (2001) model for adult false memory development also accounts for children's false memory develoment. Thus, three studies were conducted targeting different aspects of Mazzoni et al.'s model. Study 1 examined whether children could become equally confident, and develop just as many memories of a plausible as a less plausible false event. Thus, study 1 targeted both the plausibility and memory construction components of Mazzoni et al.'s (2001) model. Over three interviews 6-year olds and 10-year olds were shown two true photos and two false photos created using Photoshop(copyright)-one depicted a plausible event and one depicted a less plausible event. Children described what they could remember about each of the four events, and rated their confidence and how much they could remember. The results showed that within each age group, children were just as confident and claimed to remember just as much about the plausible as the less plausible event. Moreover, children developed just as many memories of the plausible as the less plausible event. In addition, children were just as likely to develop memories of the false events when they were told that those events had happened in the distant past versus the recent past. Study 2 examined whether including personalised detail in the false photo makes it easier for children to construct images of the false event, and therefore increases the likelihood of children developing false memories. Thus, study 2 further examined the memory construction component of Mazzoni et al.'s (2001) model. Ten-year olds saw four photos, one of which was false. For some children the false photo included personalised detail, while for others the false photo included only generic detail. The results showed that children who saw the personalised detail in the false photo were more confident, and claimed to remember more about the false event than children who did not see the personalised detail. Moreover, children who saw the personalised detail were also more likely to develop images and memories of the false event. Study 3 examined whether event information would help children develop more false memories then protagonist information alone. Thus, Study 3 also examined the memory construction component of Mazzoni et al.'s (2001) model. Ten-year olds were asked about for events. All children saw a photo of their family members from the relevant time period. However, half the children also saw a photo depicting an aspect of the specific event to be recalled. The results showed that children who saw a photo depicting an aspect of the event were not more confident nor did they claim to remember any more than children who saw only a photo of the protagonists. In addition, there was no difference in the rate of false memories and images between children who did and did not see a photo depicting an aspect of the event. Taken together, the results of these studies demonstrate that Mazzoni et al.'s (2001) model does explain how children develop false memories. More specifically, these studies show that the level of detail, as well as the type of detail, are important factors in determining whether or not children will develop false memories.