Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 157-181

First online:

Children's Testimony: A Review of Research on Memory for Past Experiences

  • Betty N. GordonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • , Lynne Baker-WardAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, North Carolina State University
  • , Peter A. OrnsteinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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This review of children's testimony focuses on research related to memory for past experiences. The aspects of the memory system that are involved in testimony are discussed and the development of autobiographical memory is examined. Relevant research findings are summarized in the context of an information-processing model of memory and the implications of this work for clinical practice are outlined. We conclude that (1) under certain conditions, even very young children can remember and report past experiences with some accuracy over very long periods of time; (2) substantial and significant developmental differences have been demonstrated in children's abilities to provide eyewitness testimony; (3) children can be influenced in a variety of ways to provide complete and elaborated reports of events that never occurred; and (4) even experts cannot always tell the difference between true and false reports.

children's testimony eyewitness memory suggestibility trauma