In The Accuracy of Mother Memories of Conversations With Their Preschool Children, Maggie Bruck, Stephen Ceci and Emmett Franco eur examine the specific elements of mothers memories when interacting with their children. Twenty four mothers with young children from the ages of three to five were picked for this study. Most of the children were from middle class families. The mothers were all told that the experiment was about their interactions with their children. Then the women were put into two randomly selected groups; one group was told that the experiment was also a study on their memory, and they would be quizzed about their interactions with their children in the next few days.
The other group of women were told no other additional information other then they would be contacted about the study within a few days. Once the children were settled, the mothers left the room. During a scheduled play time (for about twenty minutes), the children participated in various activities such as coloring, singing, playing with Play-doh, and then a staged surprising event took place. A man climbed in the window, looking for his firemans hat.
When found, he accused the assistant of using his favorite crayon. The assistant convinced the man to let them (assistant and child) use it until they were done playing. He agreed, blew the child a kiss, and left the room. The purpose was to give the child a specific unusual experience to report back to the mother. The mothers waited in a separate room, and were given instructions.
They were supposed to ask their children specific questions to try to learn about the various activities they did during the twenty minutes. In order to help, the mothers were given a list of six activities, in which only two actually happened. They were also told that an unusual event took place, and they were to try to find out what happened. If the mother could not illicit the story of the man a firemans hat was brought in to prompt the childs memory. In the interviews, 18 out of the 24 mothers had to not only verbally prompt the children about the unusual man, but also required the firemans hat as a visual prompt. Their interactions were video taped and later transcribed immediately following the play session.
Three or four days later, assistants were sent to interview the mothers. They could either be interviewed in their home or back at the lab. The mothers were given twenty passages selected from their transcribed co.