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Developmental trends in different types of spontaneous false memories: Implications for the legal field

Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Peters, M. , Sauerland, M. & Raymaekers, L. (2013). Developmental trends in different types of spontaneous false memories: Implications for the legal field. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 31(5), pp. 666-682. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2076


An emerging area of memory research is showing that a certain type of false memory called spontaneous false memories follows a developmental trajectory that is the opposite of what is commonly assumed in false memory research. That is, spontaneous false memories are more likely to occur in adults than in children. The present study focused on developmental trends of different types of spontaneous false memories. Specifically, in the current study, 6-8-year-olds, 10-12-year-olds, and adults were presented with two methods to induce spontaneous false memories. That is, participants were presented with semantically-related words lists that are commonly used to evoke spontaneous false memories (i.e, Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm). Furthermore, they were presented with a video in which related details were not shown but were presented during a recognition task. Our results showed that children were more likely to form false memories than adults in the video false memory paradigm whereas DRM false memories were more evident in adults than in children. Furthermore, we found that on a general level, DRM false memories were positively related to video spontaneous false memories. We explain that stimuli that contain obvious themes attenuate or even reverse developmental trends in spontaneous false memories.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted version of the following article: Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Peters, M., Sauerland, M. and Raymaekers, L. (2013), Developmental Trends in Different Types of Spontaneous False Memories: Implications for the Legal Field. Behav. Sci. Law, 31: 666–682., which has been published in final form at
Publisher Keywords: False memory, Development, Suggestion, Spontaneous, Developmental reversal
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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