We wish to thank the children and staffs of the Eastwood School, Prospect School, Langston Middle School, First Church Nursery, Oberlin Cooperative Nursery, and Oberlin Early Childhood Center for their generous cooperation, and Patricia deWinstanley for her comments on an earlier version of this article. We are also grateful to Sara Jaffee and Kathrin Ellermann for collecting the data in Study 3. This work was supported by Research and Development grants from Oberlin College.
Children's Comparisons of the Recency of Two Events from the Past Year
Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 66, Issue 4, pages 970–983, August 1995
How to Cite
Friedman, W. J., Gardner, A. C. and Zubin, N. R. E. (1995), Children's Comparisons of the Recency of Two Events from the Past Year. Child Development, 66: 970–983. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1995.tb00916.x
- Issue online: 28 JUN 2008
- Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
Research on memory for time has been limited by the difficulty of disentangling several of the fundamentally different processes that contribute to a chronological sense of the past. This study used a developmental approach to isolate one of these processes, impressions of distances in the past. Large samples of children between 3 and 12 years were asked to judge which was longer ago, their birthday or Christmas (and, in one study, Halloween and Thanksgiving). Even children under 6 years of age were able to discriminate the recency of their birthday and Christmas with great accuracy when the events were widely separated and one was within the past several months. The ability to discriminate recency on these scales appears to be a basic property of human memory that changes little with development. Other information about the locations of the events and their relative times of occurrence could only be interpreted correctly by children older than 9 years.