Mother-child reminiscing and autobiographical memory specificity among preschool-age children.Dev Psychol. 2014 Apr; 50(4):1197-207.DP
Overgeneral memory (OGM) refers to difficulty in retrieving specific autobiographical memories. The tendency to be overgeneral in autobiographical memory recall is more commonly observed among individuals with emotional disorders compared with those without. Despite significant advances in theory and identification of mechanisms that underlie the etiology of OGM, there has been little integration between normative research on the development of autobiographical memory and research on OGM. Informed by a developmental psychopathology perspective and drawing on normative developmental research on the social construction of autobiographical memory, the current investigation examined whether the elaborative quantity and elaborative quality of maternal reminiscing are predictive of preschool-age children's autobiographical memory specificity. Additionally, this investigation tested whether children's positive self-representations may explain these hypothesized associations. Participants consisted of 95 mother-child dyads. Children's ages ranged between 3.5 and 6 years, and the sample was predominantly low income and of minority race/ethnicity. Dyads participated in a joint reminiscing task about 4 past events, and children participated in assessments of autobiographical memory specificity and self-representations. Results indicated that the elaborative quality, defined by maternal-sensitive guidance and emotional narrative coherence, but not the elaborative quantity, of maternal reminiscing style was significantly associated with children's autobiographical memory specificity. Additionally, there was support for an indirect pathway between maternal reminiscing quality and child memory specificity through children's positive self-representations. Directions for future research are discussed, and potential clinical implications are addressed.