chapter  9
15 Pages

Trust in others’ versions of experience: implications for children’s autobiographical memory


As indicated by the various strands of research in this volume, children’s conceptualization of the world is markedly shaped by the testimony of others. Children can come to represent the location of a hidden object or classify a novel entity on the basis of what other people tell them. Their understanding of faraway places and historic events is driven by information supplied by others. In these cases, children are dependent on testimony because they lack firsthand experience. But this is not to say that direct experience plays no role. Children surely draw on knowledge gained from their experiences to represent phenomena they have never seen but only heard about. For example, when children learn about Disney World, they may use their memory of a neighborhood carnival to conjure up images of rides and other attractions. Similarly, when grandparents tell stories of one-room school houses, children may make use their current school experiences to generate a representation of their grandparents’ classroom.