Department of Human Development and Famiky Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
In this article the authors examine one possible factor in the creation of false beliefs among preschool-aged children, namely, source misattributions. The authors present the results from an ongoing program of research which suggest that source misattributions could be a mechanism underlying children's false beliefs about having experienced fictitious events. Findings from this program of research indicate that, although all children are susceptible to making source misattributions, very young children may be disproportionately vulnerable to these kinds of errors. This vulnerability leads younger preschoolers, on occasion, to claim that they remember actually experiencing events that they only thought about or were suggested by others. These results are discussed in the context of the ongoing debate over the veracity and durability of delayed reports of early memories, repressed memories, dissociative states, and the validity risks posed by therapeutic techniques that entail repeated visually guided imagery inductions.