Maltreated children's memory: Accuracy, suggestibility, and psychopathology

TitleMaltreated children's memory: Accuracy, suggestibility, and psychopathology
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsEisen, ML, Goodman, GS, Qin, J, Davis, S, Crayton, J
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
KeywordsCHILD abuse, Child Neglect, children, eyewitness memory, maltreatment, Memory, psychopathology, Stress, stress arousal, suggestibility, trauma, Victimization, Witnesses

Memory, suggestibility, stress arousal, and trauma-related psychopathology were examined in 328 3- to 16-year-olds involved in forensic investigations of abuse and neglect. Children's memory and suggestibility were assessed for a medical examination and venipuncture. Being older and scoring higher in cognitive functioning were related to fewer inaccuracies. In addition, cortisol level and trauma symptoms in children who reported more dissociative tendencies were associated with increased memory error, whereas cortisol level and trauma symptoms were not associated with increased error for children who reported fewer dissociative tendencies. Sexual and/or physical abuse predicted greater accuracy. The study contributes important new information to scientific understanding of maltreatment, psychopathology, and eyewitness memory in children.