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J Exp Child Psychol. 1997 Jun;65(3):261-92.

Props and children's event reports: the impact of a 1-year delay.

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University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Three- and 5-year-old children took part in a quasi-medical event in which the child and an adult stranger examined a "sick" teddy bear. Three days and 1 year after the event, children were interviewed in one of three interview conditions; with real items from the event (real props); with toy representations of those items (toy props); or with verbal prompts (no props). After 3 days, both toys and real items facilitated children's reports compared to verbal prompts, but children interviewed with toy props were less accurate than those interviewed with either real items or verbal prompts. After 1 year, the reports of children interviewed with real items remained more accurate than those of children interviewed with toys, although real items did not differentially protect recall from forgetting compared to either toys or verbal prompts. The report of the older children were as accurate at the 1-year delay as at the 3-day delay, whereas the reports of the younger children were particularly susceptible to errors. Correct information was more likely to be repeated across interviews than were errors. New information introduced for the first time after 1 year was highly unreliable for both age groups, whereas that repeated across interviews was highly reliable.

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