On Remembering…More or Less: A Trace Strength Interpretation of Developmental Differences in Suggestibility

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In this article we review the arguments of Brainerd and Reyna (1988) concerning children's presumed vulnerability to erroneous postevent suggestions. Contrary to most researchers in this area who view memory as an all-or-none phenomenon, these authors maintain that the observed developmental trend in suggestibility could be the result of nonsuggestibility mechanisms that operate differently for various age groups because of correlated changes in the strength of their memory trace. They elaborate a trace strength account of these findings, one with which we agree and have endorsed in our previous work. In this comment we review the various possibilities that exist for age-related differences to occur to memory traces in response to misleading postevent suggestions. We conclude by arguing that most of the suggestibility effects found by Ceci, Ross, and Toglia (1987) were probably the result of the mechanisms we postulated, even though the mechanisms described by Brainerd and Reyna may have accounted for some of them and have a great deal of merit in explaining other findings in this area.

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