A timing-specific memory distortion effect in young children

Teresa McCormack, Gwen Brown, M D Smith, J. Brock

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26 Citations (Scopus)
231 Downloads (Pure)


It has been suggested that there are systematic distortions in children's memory for temporal durations, such that children's memory is not just less accurate than that of adults but qualitatively different. Experiment I replicated the memory distortion effect by demonstrating developmental change in the tendency to confuse a reference duration with one that is shorter rather than longer than it. When the long-term memory demands of the task were reduced by providing reminders of the reference duration on every trial, there were no such qualitative changes in error patterns (Experiment 2). Further evidence for developmental changes in memory distortion was found in the temporal generalization task of Experiment 3, in which stimuli were spaced logarithmically rather than linearly. In Experiment 4, a similar distortion pattern was absent in a task in which children made judgments about the pitch rather than the duration of stimuli, suggesting the effect may be specific to time estimation. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-56
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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