Development Of Gist Processing Skills And Memory In Children And Young Adults: Effects Of Presentation Type In A Modified DRM Paradigm
Miller, Haylie Lauren
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To date, studies have separately tested the influence of narrative context, source-monitoring, and list length on gist extraction. The present study expanded upon that body of work by examining those variables in combination. Specifically, I observed the effects of presentation type (list versus narrative) on children's ability to process gist at ages 5, 7, 9, and 11, as well as young adults age 18-30. Participants watched two puppets present either a list of words or a narrative with an embedded DRM list. Following presentation of the puppet show, participants were given a source memory test where they were asked to judge whether a given item was previously presented, and if so, which puppet said it. Additionally, researchers administered two standardized tests for IQ (WASI; Wechsler, 1999) and listening comprehension (WIAT; Wechsler, 2005). Results obtained from a series of ANOVAs and corresponding post-hoc tests provided partial support for hypotheses, such that gist-based false memory occurs at a lower rate in younger children than older children and young adults. Contrary to hypotheses, younger children (5- and 7-year-olds) did not seem to benefit from the increased context of a narrative. Instead, they processed gist just as effectively when information was presented in a list. In support of hypotheses, 9-year-olds experienced the expected effect of presentation type, processing gist more effectively when information was presented in a narrative than in a list. Interestingly, analyses yielded the unexpected finding that young adults processed gist more effectively in lists than in narratives. Finally, in support of hypotheses, enhanced gist processing resulted in both a higher proportion of false but gist-consistent "old" recognition judgments and a higher proportion of gist-consistent source memory errors. Findings from the present study are discussed with respect to implications for future research on the development of gist processing and the role of narrative context in typical and atypical gist extraction.