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Applying Retrieval-Induced Forgetting to Children's Testimony


Thomas L. Phenix, Psychology, Campion College at the University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, CANADA, S4S 0A2.



When a crime has been committed, investigators must obtain as much and as accurate information as possible from witnesses. Initial incomplete interviews may pose a potential cost to unretrieved information. We explored retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) in children's autobiographical memory for related episodic events. Children experienced four related play sessions across 4 days, followed by word stem retrieval practice of half of the items, and a cued recall task that took place either 15 minutes or 2 hours later. Categorized details were experienced either within a single day or across multiple days. The emergence of RIF was dependent upon the length of delay between practice and test phases and the temporal distribution of the episodic events. Our observations demonstrate that RIF can be a subtle phenomenon whose occurrence depends upon whether the retrieval context supports an environment of retrieval interference. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.