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Abstract

In the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm, participants study a list of words (e.g., bed, rest, awake, dream) that are related to a critical target (i.e., sleep). When tested, participants often falsely report the critical target even though it was not on the original study list. Although this procedure has been used extensively with adults, few researchers have employed the DRM task with children. The present experiment explored how children and adults perform in the DRM paradigm when the length of the study list is manipulated. Children and adults studied eight DRM lists comprising either seven words (short-list condition) or 14 words (long-list condition). Adults recalled a larger proportion of studied words in both list length conditions. In the long-list condition, adults falsely recalled significantly more critical targets than children. In the short-list condition, rates of false recall did not differ. A similar pattern emerged in the recognition data, with adults obtaining a higher rate of false recognition than children in the long-list condition, but not in the short list condition. Overall, long lists produced more false memories than short lists. We conclude that studying longer lists led to greater activation of the critical target in adults, whereas children received little additional activation from longer lists. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.