The Impact of Naturally Occurring Stress on Children’s Memory

  • Douglas P. Peters


Since the mid-1970s there has been a tremendous growth in eyewitness research. One estimate indicates that over 85% of the entire eyewitness literature has been published since 1978 (Wells & Loftus, 1984). Numerous findings of forensic import to criminal investigators and courts of law have been generated by modern eyewitness researchers. Although psychologists, among others, have learned a great deal about the influence of various factors on adults’ eyewitness memory, very little is known about their effect on children’s memory. This is indeed unfortunate because many children observe and are victims in criminal proceedings. Children are increasingly being called upon by courts to provide their recollection of events they previously witnessed (Beach, 1983), especially if they are the only witness to a crime. In some cases today children as young as 3 or 4 years of age are testifying in criminal proceedings, for example, the McMartin Preschool trial of sexual abuse in Los Angeles, California, which has received nationwide publicity.


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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

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  • Douglas P. Peters

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