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False memory for trauma-related Deese–Roediger–McDermott lists in adolescents and adults with histories of child sexual abuse

  • Gail S. Goodman (a1), Christin M. Ogle (a2), Stephanie D. Block (a3), Latonya S. Harris (a3), Rakel P. Larson (a4), Else-Marie Augusti (a5), Young Il Cho (a6), Jonathan Beber (a1), Susan Timmer (a1) and Anthony Urquiza (a1)...


The purpose of the present research was to examine Deese–Roediger–McDermott false memory for trauma-related and nontrauma-related lists in adolescents and adults with and without documented histories of child sexual abuse (CSA). Individual differences in psychopathology and adult attachment were also explored. Participants were administered free recall and recognition tests after hearing CSA, negative, neutral, and positive Deese–Roediger–McDermott lists. In free recall, CSA and negative lists produced the most false memory. In sharp contrast, for recognition, CSA lists enjoyed the highest d′ scores. CSA-group adolescents who evinced greater posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms had higher rates of false memory compared to (a) non-CSA group adolescents with higher PTSD symptom scores (free recall), and (b) CSA-group adolescents with lower PTSD symptom scores (recognition). Regression analyses revealed that individuals with higher PTSD scores and greater fearful-avoidant attachment tendencies showed less proficient memory monitoring for CSA lists. Implications for trauma and memory development and for translational research are discussed.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Gail S. Goodman, Department of Psychology, University of California, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616; E-mail:; or Stephanie D. Block, Center for Departmental Science, University of North Carolina, CB 8115, 100 East Franklin Street, Suite 200, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8115; E-mail:


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