Human Figure Drawings and Children’s Recall of Touching

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In 2 studies, children ages 3 to 7 years were asked to recall a series of touches that occurred during a previous staged event. The recall interview took place 1 week after the event in Study 1 and immediately after the event in Study 2. Each recall interview had 2 sections: In 1 section, children were given human figure drawings (HFDs) and were asked to show where the touching took place; in the other section, the same questions were asked without the HFDs (verbal condition). Children were randomly assigned to 2 different conditions: HFD 1st/verbal 2nd or verbal 1st/HFD 2nd. There were 2 major findings. First, HFDs elicited more errors than the verbal condition when used to probe for information that the child had already been asked. Second, regardless of interview method, children had poor recall of the touches even when these occurred minutes before the interview. It is suggested that cognitive mechanisms involving memory and semantics underlie children’s poor recall of touching in both verbal and HFD conditions.

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