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Child Dev. 1993 Oct;64(5):1519-33.

Young children's long-term retention of a pediatric examination.

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Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695-7801.


Children at ages 3, 5 and 7 (N = 187) provided reports of their physical examinations immediately following the checkup and after a delay of either 1, 3, or 6 weeks, or only after 3 weeks. The protocol used for all interviews consisted of initial general prompts, followed by increasingly specific questions as needed. Recall of standard features of the examinations was scored, along with responses to questions concerning acts that did not occur. Retention of the event was extensive and accurate. Although clear age effects were observed in recall, the delay interval did not strongly affect performance over the 6-week period. The amount of forgetting was significant at ages 3 and 5, but not at age 7. With increasing age, a greater percentage of the features was spontaneously recalled. When presented with incongruous questions, all children evidenced rates of correct denials that exceeded chance and few errors of commission. The initial interview did not affect delayed recall. Implications for children's testimony are discussed.

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