Peterson, C., Morris, G., Baker-Ward, L., & Flynn, S. (2014). Predicting Which Childhood Memories Persist: Contributions of Memory Characteristics. Developmental Psychology, 50, 439-448. doi: 10.1037/a0033221


This investigation identified memory-level predictors of the survivability of 4- to 13-year-old children’s earliest recollections over a 2-year period. Data previously reported by Peterson, Warren, and Short (2011) were coded for inclusion of emotion terms and thematic, chronological, and contextual narrative coherence. In addition, the uniqueness and content of the reported events were classified, and the presence or absence of event reminders was recorded. The use of logistic multilevel modeling indicated that emotion and each dimension of coherence added to the prediction of a memory’s survivability over and above age-related variance. In contrast, event uniqueness, content category, reminders, and word count were not associated with retention. The findings help explain why particular early memories endure over time.