Abducted by a UFO: prevalence information affects young children's false memories for an implausible event.

H.P. Otgaar*, I.E.L. Candel, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, K. Wade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study examined whether prevalence information promotes children's false memories for an implausible event. Forty-four 7-8 and forty-seven 11-12 year old children heard a true narrative about their first school day and a false narrative about either an implausible event (abducted by a UFO) or a plausible event (almost choking on a candy). Moreover, half of the children in each condition received prevalence information in the form of a false newspaper article while listening to the narratives. Across two interviews, children were asked to report everything they remembered about the events. In both age groups, plausible and implausible events were equally likely to give rise to false memories. Prevalence information increased the number of false memories in 7-8 year olds, but not in 11-12 year olds at Interview 1. Our findings demonstrate that young children can easily develop false memories of a highly implausible event.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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