Source memory and social exchange in young children

Abstract

Reciprocal interactions require memories of social exchanges; however, little is known about how we remember social partner actions, especially during childhood when we start forming peer-to-peer relationships. This study examined if the expectation-violation effect, which has been observed in adults’ source memory, exists among 5–6-year-old children. Forty participants played a coin collection game where they either received or lost coins after being shown an individual with a smiling or angry expression. This set-up generated congruent (smiling-giver and angry-taker) versus incongruent (smiling-taker and angry-giver) conditions. In the subsequent tasks, the children were asked to recall which actions accompanied each individual. The children considered the person with incongruent conditions as being stranger than the person with congruent conditions, suggesting that the former violated the children’s emotion-based expectations. However, no heightened source memory was found for the incongruent condition. Instead, children seem to better recognise the action of angry individuals than smiling individuals, suggesting that angry facial expressions are more salient for children’s source memory in a social exchange.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank our research participants for all their help in this study, as well as the staff and volunteers at Miraikan for their advice and support.

Funding

This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Research Fellow (18F18999), Japan Science and Technology Agency Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (JST CREST) (JPMJCR14E4), and JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) (17H00753, 17H06344, 19K14370, 15H01846, 20K20156).

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Contributions

Xianwei Meng involved in conceptualisation, methodology, software, validation, formal analysis, investigation, resources, writing – original draft, writing – review & editing, visualisation, funding acquisition. Tatsunori Ishii participated in conceptualisation, methodology, software, investigation, resources, writing – review & editing. Kairi Sugimoto involved in investigation, Shoji Itakura participated in writing – review & editing, supervision, funding acquisition, Katsumi Watanabe involved in resources, writing – review & editing, supervision, project administration, funding acquisition.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xianwei Meng or Tatsunori Ishii.

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The authors certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organisation or entity with any financial interest, or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the ethics committee of Waseda University and conducted in accordance with the American Psychological Association’s ethical standards (2017) and the Declaration of Helsinki (2001). Written informed consent was obtained from the children’s caregivers before the experiment.

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Handling editor: Simonetta D'Amico (University of L'Aquila); Reviewers: Kartini Abdul Ghani (University of Malaysia Sarawak), Massimiliano Palmiero (University of Bergamo).

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Meng, X., Ishii, T., Sugimoto, K. et al. Source memory and social exchange in young children. Cogn Process (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10339-021-01028-3

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Keywords

  • Expectation-violation
  • Facial expression
  • Children
  • Negativity bias
  • Memory
  • Social development