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Johnson, M. K., Raye, C. R., Hasher, L., & Chromiak, W. (1979). Are there developmental differences in reality-monitoring? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 27, 120-128.


The question addressed by the present experiment is whether the ability to distinguish between veridical and imaginal memory representations changes with age. Second-grade, fourth-grade, and sixth-grade children (8,10, 12 years old) and college students were shown pictures of familiar objects. Each picture was presented one, two, or three times and, interspersed with these presentations, subjects were asked to imagine each picture zero, one, or three times. Subsequently they were asked to judge the presentation frequency of each picture. For all groups, imagining the pictures resulted in inflated estimates of event frequency. However, contrary to the idea that children have a particularly difficult time discriminating externally generated from internally generated memories, on analysis indicated adults were actually somewhat more affected than children by the imagination trials.

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