The accuracy of mothers' memories of conversations with their preschool children

Maggie Bruck, Stephen J. Ceci, Emmett Francoeur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Mothers interviewed their 4-year-old children about a structured play activity that occurred minutes earlier while the mothers had been absent. Half of the mothers were forewarned that this was a memory experiment and that they should try to remember the meaning and the exact words used when they interviewed their children about the play activity; the other mothers were not given any forewarning. Approximately 3 days later, mothers' recall and recognition memories for aspects of the interview were assessed. Forewarnings about the memory test did not improve mothers' performances on any measures. As anticipated, mothers' memories for meaning was better than their memories for the exact wording or structure of the conversation. Importantly, they had difficulty recalling how the information was elicited from their children, whether their children's statements were spontaneous or prompted, or whether specific utterances were spoken by themselves or by their children. The authors discuss these results in terms of their practical ramifications for hearsay testimony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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