Recollection, Testimony, and Lying in Early Childhood

Pages: 167
Item #: 431616A
ISBN: 978-1-55798-574-3
List Price: $29.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $24.95
Copyright: 1999
Format: Hardcover
Note: This book is out of print and no longer available for purchase.

Child psychologists, educators, and legal professionals have long sought to understand the extent to which young children are able to recall their experiences and report on them accurately. In 1909, William and Clara Stern published in Germany this fascinating and rigorous study of the development of their own children's abilities to recollect, recount, testify, and distinguish truth from falsehood.

Until now, their work has been unavailable to American readers. This translation from German by James Lamiell reveals the prescience of the Sterns' thinking about issues that still concern those interested in memory development and suggestibility. The Sterns' monograph is divided into three main parts: the first catalogs the development of their oldest daughter's ability to recollect and report accurately what she experienced; the second adds material gleaned from observation of the Sterns' other two children, comparing the findings with material available in the contemporary literature; and the third suggests practical applications for educators and legal professionals concerned with the accuracy of children's reports.

This book will interest scholars in the fields of development, cognition, policy, and law.

Table of Contents

About the Authors

Foreword: The Legacy of Clara and William Stern: Rediscovering the Origins of Contemporary Views on the Child Witness
—Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck

Translator's Preface
—James T. Lamiell

—James T. Lamiell and Werner Deutsch

Foreword to the Original Volume
—Clara and William Stern

Preface to the Original Volume
—Clara and William Stern

I. Individual Development of the Ability to Testify

  1. Recognition as the Basis of Recollection
  2. The Chronological Development of Recall and Testimonial Ability
  3. False Testimony: Mistaken Recollections, Pseudo-Lies, and Lies

II. Comparative Psychology of Testimony in Early Childhood

  1. Recognition
  2. Correct Recollection
  3. Purposive Recall
  4. Mistaken Recollections
  5. Experimental Studies of Testimony in Early Childhood
  6. Falsification of Testimony Through Fantasy
  7. Pseudo-Lies and Lies

III. Practical Applications

  1. Educating Young Children to Report on Their Experiences
  2. The Origins of Lying and Its Prevention
  3. The Capability of Small Children as Witnesses in Legal Proceedings






Reviews & Awards

The scope of this work is staggering—discussing memory development, the role of fantasy, childhood lies, and practical suggestions for educating children. This book should read by psychologists interested in child development, memory, the law, and education. But it is far more than a historical gem. It directly bears on modern debates about the origins of multiple memory system and the reliability of childhood testimony. The book's unique contribution is its detailed longitudinal data on memory change. Like two other giants, Piaget and Vygotsky, the Sterns are bursting with ideas that successfully bridge the cultural and temporal divide separating them from us. If psychology is to become a cumulative science, modern psychologists must become familiar with this book. The Sterns were visitors from the future—prescient theoreticians, breathtaking original in their experiments, and lyrical in their prose. Dr. Lamiell has provided us with a beautiful and sensitive translation of this ingenious book. We owe him much thanks for making it accessible to the English-speaking audience.
—Andrew Meltzoff, Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Washington

The Sterns' thinking [has] proved to be so far ahead of its time that an argument can be made that much of the research carried out in the half century that followed them was derivative of their ideas. Indeed, much of what they wrote in this monograph could, with very minor stylistic changes, be inserted into any modern text of memory development without the reader detecting the slightest hint of antiquity. So prescient was the Sterns' suggestible than adults, and if so, whether the nature of their suggestibility is such that they ought to be precluded from testifying in court. No matter which current issue in cognitive development you choose, it is covered in Lamiell's masterful translation of this monograph.
—Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck

This landmark work, first published 90 years ago and now skillfully translated into English by James Lamiell, is a major contribution to the history of psychology. Detailed accounts drawn from Clara Stern's renowned diaries of the Stern children and other sources provide new data bearing on issues of children's spontaneous and purposeful recollection. The Sterns' interpretations presage current debates on children's ability to distinguish reality and fantasy and their reliability as witnesses. Recollection, Testimony, and Lying in Early Childhood is that rare work that simultaneously illuminates the history of the field and provides a rich source for contemporary inquiry.
—Margery Franklin, Roy E. Larsen Professor of Psychology, Sarah Lawrence College