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The development of automatic associative processes and children's false memories

Wimmer, M. C. & Howe, M. L. (2009). The development of automatic associative processes and children's false memories. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 104(4), pp. 447-465. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.07.006


We investigated children’s ability to generate associations and how automaticity of associative activation unfolds developmentally. Children generated associative responses using a single associate paradigm (Experiment 1) or a Deese/Roediger–McDermott (DRM)-like multiple associates paradigm (Experiment 2). The results indicated that children’s ability to generate meaningful word associates, and the automaticity with which they were generated, increased between 5, 7, and 11 years of age. These findings suggest that children’s domain-specific knowledge base and the associative connections among related concepts are present and continue to develop from a very early age. Moreover, there is an increase in how these concepts are automatically activated with age, something that results from domain-general developments in speed of processing. These changes are consistent with the neurodevelopmental literature and together may provide a more complete explanation of the development of memory illusions.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: “NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in <Journal title>. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 104, Issue 4, December 2009, Pages 447–465,
Publisher Keywords: Implicit associative responses, Automatic processes, False memory development, Associative activation theory, Source monitoring, DRM paradigm
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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