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Recalling more childhood events leads to judgments of poorer memory: Implications for the recovered/false memory debate

Dissociative disorders that are believed to develop from childhood sexual abuse are often considered to include amnesia for childhood events, particularly the events that involve the abuse itself. One unresolved issue is the extent to which memory recovery attempts can contribute to claims of having amnestic symptoms. Two experiments with 311 undergraduates revealed that requiring more reports of childhood events will increase judgments of having poorer memory of one's childhood. The results are consistent with the use of heuristics when one is reasoning under conditions of uncertainty, as experienced difficulty in remembering more experiences is attributed to the incompleteness of childhood memory. The findings challenge the validity of reports of childhood amnesia that follow memory recovery attempts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)