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Stress, Trauma, and Children's Memory DevelopmentNeurobiological, cognitive, clinical and legal perspectives$
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Mark L. Howe, Gail S. Goodman, and Dante Cicchetti

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195308457

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195308457.001.0001

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Children’s Memory for Stressful Events

Children’s Memory for Stressful Events

Exploring the Role of Discrete Emotions

(p.236) 7 Children’s Memory for Stressful Events
Stress, Trauma, and Children's Memory Development

Elizabeth L. Davis

Jodi A. Quas

Linda J. Levine

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how discrete emotions affect children's memory of stressful experiences. It argues for the need to look beyond “distress” as a unitary construct and evaluate children's understanding or appraisals of those events that elicit distress, along with children's discrete emotional experiences and emotion regulation techniques. With age, children appraise situations and regulate their emotions in increasingly complex ways, and become capable of attending to multiple dimensions of an event. Younger children, with an appraisal process that is similar to but simpler than adults', and with limited emotion-regulation strategies, are likely to focus narrowly on the aspect of a situation that is more central and emotionally relevant to them. Such an intense singular attentional focus should, in turn, lead to enhanced memory for the aspects of an event that have direct relevance to the child's emotional state — memory for information about loss when feeling sad, agents and obstructed goals when feeling angry, and threats when feeling scared — at the expense of other, unrelated information.

Keywords:   discrete emotions, emotional regulation techniques, stress, distress, memories, child, sad, angry, scared

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