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Dividing Attention Lowers Children's but Increases Adults' False Memories

Otgaar, H., Peters, M. & Howe, M. L. (2012). Dividing Attention Lowers Children's but Increases Adults' False Memories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(1), pp. 204-210. doi: 10.1037/a0025160


The present study examined the impact of divided attention on children’s and adults’ neutral and negative true and false memories in a standard DRM paradigm. Children (7- and 11-year-olds; n = 126) and adults (n = 52) received 5 neutral and 5 negative DRM word lists where half of each group received a divided attention task. The results showed that divided attention affected children’s and adults’ false memory levels differently, but did not alter true memory differently. Specifically, our results revealed a developmental shift in that divided attention lowered children’s false memory rates, but increased adults’ false memory rates, regardless of the nature of the material (i.e., neutral or negative). Our study indicates that manipulations that target conscious processing (e.g., divided attention) result in marked qualitative and quantitative differences between children’s and adults’ false memories but not true memories.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher Keywords: False memories, Development, Divided attention, Memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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