How Mothers’ Belief in Misinformation Affects Children’s Memory and Suggestibility

Landon Nelson, GSSM

Abstract

This study involved the manipulation of mothers’ belief in misinformation about an earlier event experienced by their children to examine whether such false beliefs lead to conversational control and consequently errors in children’s memory. One hundred and thirty-one children and their mothers were divided into four groups and labeled with a pairing of four different variables, strong/weak suggestion and process/outcome oriented. Mothers were given one of four types of letters, all of which asked them how much they believed the rabbit got loose and instructed them to question their children about it. Some letters were more suggestive and some letters manipulated the mothers’ goals depending on what group they were in. The children were interviewed about the magic show to determine on what level the children in each experimental group reported the loose rabbit: open-ended, specific, leading. The results showed the mothers who were given the strong suggestion and manipulated to focus on their children’s accuracy caused a significant amount of inaccuracies in their children’s memory. The study shows how much a strong suggestion and conversational manipulation can affect a child’s memory about a magic show, but what if these children’s statements determined whether an accused murderer lived or died?

 
Apr 14th, 9:15 AM

How Mothers’ Belief in Misinformation Affects Children’s Memory and Suggestibility

Neville 305

This study involved the manipulation of mothers’ belief in misinformation about an earlier event experienced by their children to examine whether such false beliefs lead to conversational control and consequently errors in children’s memory. One hundred and thirty-one children and their mothers were divided into four groups and labeled with a pairing of four different variables, strong/weak suggestion and process/outcome oriented. Mothers were given one of four types of letters, all of which asked them how much they believed the rabbit got loose and instructed them to question their children about it. Some letters were more suggestive and some letters manipulated the mothers’ goals depending on what group they were in. The children were interviewed about the magic show to determine on what level the children in each experimental group reported the loose rabbit: open-ended, specific, leading. The results showed the mothers who were given the strong suggestion and manipulated to focus on their children’s accuracy caused a significant amount of inaccuracies in their children’s memory. The study shows how much a strong suggestion and conversational manipulation can affect a child’s memory about a magic show, but what if these children’s statements determined whether an accused murderer lived or died?