Narrative Skills as a Predictor of Suggestibility and Memory Accuracy
Narrative skills have been identified as an important contributor to memory development in young children. In the present research, I examine the relationship between children?s narrative skills and suggestibility as well as memory accuracy. Across two studies, a total of 112 preschool-aged children engaged in a staged event with a classroom visitor and were subsequently questioned suggestively. Results from Study 1 indicated that children's ability to provide a high quality narrative of the event was related to resistance to suggestive questions, appearing to supersede age as a predictor. Study 2 further examined the role of children's general language abilities (measured through a teacher report) and general narrative skills (measured through an autobiographical memory narrative). These results replicated the findings that children's ability to produce a high quality narrative of a previously experienced past event independently predicts resistance to suggestion independent of language skill. However, the quality of children's autobiographical memory narratives predicted increased suggestibility. In addition, in both studies high quality narratives were related to reporting more spontaneous errors. Findings are considered in light of narrative's role in memory development and underlying mechanisms which may explain children's suggestibility.
narrative; suggestibility; memory; accuracy; individual differences; suggestibility
dissertation or thesis