The effects of social influence on children's memory reports: The omission and commission error asymmetry


Emma Roos af Hjelmsäter, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 500, SE 405 30, Göteborg, Sweden. Tel: +46 (0)31 786 42 83; fax: +46 (0)31 786 46 28; e-mail:


Children in two age groups (7 vs. 12 yrs, N= 174) individually interacted with a stranger and were later interviewed about this event. Right before the interview, each child encountered the stranger once again and he engaged in a conversation where he either suggested that a (central or peripheral) detail originally present in the event had actually not been there or that an originally non-present (central or peripheral) detail had in fact been there. It was hypothesized that the two types of misinformation would result in omission and commission errors respectively. The results showed that the social influence resulted in an asymmetric effect (i.e., more commission than omission errors). Importantly, we also found that the children made more errors with respect to the peripheral detail (a suitcase), compared to the central detail (a passenger). Younger children did not make more errors (neither omission nor commission errors) than older children.