Wang, Q., Peterson, C., & Hou, Y. (in press). Children dating childhood memories. Memory.
How accurate are children when dating very long-term memories? Chinese and European Canadian 8-, 11-, and 14-year-olds (N = 344) recalled and dated memories from before they went to school in a memory fluency task. Parents provided verification of children's memories and age estimates. Across all age and culture groups, a telescoping effect (i.e., events were dated as taking place more recently than they actually did) was found for earlier memories (before 48 months) and a reverse telescoping effect for later memories (after 48 months). Older children showed a greater tendency to telescope earlier memories and a weaker tendency to reverse telescope later memories than did younger children. Euro-Canadian children showed larger reverse telescoping than Chinese children. These are the first systematic findings concerning the accuracy of children's dating of very long-term memories. They shed new light on the phenomenon of telescoping and have implications for research on childhood amnesia.