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Researchers tested sixty, eight and twelve year old, children ability to recall information. Additionally, false memory was tested to study the process of information recall. Deese-Roediger McDermott (DRM) lists were used to study the false memory. Specifically, they test associative strength to words that are actually called. Researchers found that the children used in the study tended to remember the neutral rather than negative emotional DRM lists. Children were able recall more neutral items than negative emotional. Gender did not play a factor in the subject’s false memory or true recall. Older children were discovered to remember more information in general than the younger subjects. Additionally, there was more false memory for negative emotional items. Researchers hypothesized that the children tended to censor or block negative emotional information.
The article attempted to examine children’s negative emotional and neutral material. Researchers worked to find out how age has an effect on false memory in children. Negative emotional information is information that is association with negative feelings and emotions (anger, punish, lie). Neutral information is information that has no particular topic or relation. Deese-Roediger- McDermott (DRM) lists were used in the study. These particular lists are used in cognitive psychology to study false memory.
False memory refers to details that are given but are not true or did not happen. The critical lure is a concept pertaining to the DRM lists. It is the tendency to recall words that are associated with given information. The most important inquiry rose while doing this experiment, “What is the nature of children’s true and false memories for emotionally charged information?” There were sixty children involved—35 female and 25 males. Thirty 8 year old and thirty 12 year old, Caucasian participants from middle class
backgrounds were the subjects. The dependent variable in this experiment is the amount of false memory the children had. The independent variable is the information given, (neutral information and negative emotional information) age, and gender.
The tests consisted of lists with neutral and negative emotional information. The lists contained 12 items only. Additionally, 10 of the items
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had the strongest associative strength. The children were tested individually. They were assessed on the series of DRM lists and instructed to try to remember them all. Critical lure occurred when the children were given three neutral word lists (words such as chair, fruit, or sweet were said). The children didn’t quite remember the words but they remembered associated words that were not stated. Then, negative-emotional lists were used (words such as anger, cry, or lie were stated). Once again, children did not remember correct words on the negative-emotional lists, but they did say associated ones. Critical lure also happened in this case. Researchers found that there was no result due to gender of participants so they deleted this variable. It was discovered that age effected how the children remembered. The older children were far better at true recall than the younger ones.
They got more words on the DRM lists correctly. Neutral information and negative-emotional information was recalled substantially more by the older group. The study also found that children’s true and false recall rates are higher for neutral information than for negative emotional information. Researchers suggested that the lower rates for recalling negative emotional words cannot be due to differences in familiarity of the items among the children. Researchers suggest that it was likely that the children repressed or blocked negative emotional information. However, they did not do so for neutral information. One reason, researchers propose, is because children are more reluctant to process negative emotional items than positive or neutral ones. Also, they claim that neutral information was easier to remember than negative-emotional for the children. (Howe 2007, p. 10) Overall, the most important findings of this experiment were children were far better at neutral DRM information list recall than negative-emotional DRM list recall.
Researchers discovered each child’s tendency to recall less of the negative emotional information. This is interesting to know. Children often repress bad memories or information in order to protect themselves emotionally. Maybe, the children repressed the negative-emotional material because it prompted them to think about a traumatic event or something emotionally upsetting.
The best part of the article is how much one can learn about certain information and how much it affects the way individuals remember or recall. The worst thing about the article is its vagueness. There were a lot of terms that should have been properly explained and were not. Phrases such as critical lure, negative-emotional, and neutral information were not well defined. The article’s jargon was hard to get through.
The charts were incredibly complex to read and hard to understand. I found the results to be unexpected. Children remembered more neutral information than negative emotional. Negative- emotional words would seem to have more of an effect on recall. Therefore one would expect for children to remember more of the negative-emotional information. Conversely, this did not happen. If this was my research project I would design a more in-depth study.
I am interested in learning about how negative-emotional information or stimuli can prompt someone to easily forget or repress their memory. I would hypothesize how and why individuals block emotionally alarming stimuli. Is it more than a coping mechanism? One thing that could be done differently in this experiment is the explanation of terms. There were several terms that were mentioned that the average person would not know. The article could have defined important concepts or words. Several parts in the article were vague. For example, the article mentioned many times about the children being able to discriminate between true and false information. Discrimination in this context made it’s meaning unclear.
In retrospect, the researchers did not find an answer to their most critical question. However they did discover the children’s tendency to recall less of the negative emotional information. Perhaps further studies will be continues in order to get to the reason why this phenomena occurs among children.See More on Psychology