WELCOME TO THE
CHILD NARRATIVES LAB
Research Lab at the University of California, Irvine
The Child Narratives Lab is a passionate group of scholars, researchers, and professionals from various disciplines, backgrounds, and cultures. Research in the Child Narratives Lab is extremely well-rounded and focuses on a variety of different contexts, social situations, and areas of psychological science.
Research in the Child Narratives Lab focuses on how social context and individual differences influence children's reports about past events. More specifically, we address questions about how the conditions under which children experience events and the conditions in which they are asked to remember those events influence what and how they recall. We are also interested in studying how individual differences in cognitive and narrative skills contribute to children's abilities to report about events they've experienced.
Many of the research questions we address in the lab apply directly to the real world.
For example, how do attorney questions and child witness responses influence jury decisions? How do attorneys create believable stories out of children's accounts? How should adults talk with young children about negative past experiences? How can parents help their children develop their memory skills? How can we help children talk about negative experiences and facilitate their recovery from those experiences?
We are interested in applying research concerning reminiscing and narratives to real-world settings like the courtroom. This work, novel in its approach, illustrates how developmental theories can be used to understand children’s episodic recall abilities in applied settings. We examine, for example, how the individual questions and overall structure of questioning attorneys use with alleged child victims on the stand influence children's responses and jurors' perceptions of child witnesses. To address these questions we use both naturalistic (e.g. coding actual trial transcripts) and lab-based methods. Overall, this work has implications for how others guide children’s reports, and how questioning tactics, by parents and others, may shape not only children’s reports, but also their believability.
The ways in which adults discuss past events with children can shape both what and how children remember and report about their experiences. In one line of research in our lab we examine the relations between parental memory sharing styles and children’s resistance to suggestive questioning. This research combines findings from the literature on socio-contextual influences on children's autobiographical memory development with those from the psycho-legal literature examining factors influencing children's susceptibility to suggestive questioning. We aim to better understand the diverse ways in which parenting can impact children's cognitive and social development.
The act of discussing stressful past experiences has consistent links with coping and long-term well-being in adults. However, in children, findings are mixed. In some studies, talking about stressful past experiences leads to worse outcomes for children. We are interested in identifying contextual factors and developmental mechanisms that allow children to successfully discuss stressful past experiences (important for legal contexts), while facilitating recovery from those stressful experiences (important for clinical contexts). In addition to advancing theoretical understanding of narrative development, this research has the potential to help professionals facilitate meaning-making and coping with stressful experiences from childhood through the transition into adulthood.
Jurors are often asked to make objective decisions in emotionally laden cases and there is a large body of research that has revealed that emotions can influence decision making. We are currently examining the role of jurors' emotional reactions to child victims/witnesses testifying in child sexual abuse cases. In a series of mock trial studies, we are presenting jurors with case transcripts taken from actual cases and are interested in the types of emotions jurors experience during the trial and how these emotions predict decision making and memory for case evidence.
Social norms differ cross-culturally and influence how people from different cultures remember and describe past experiences. Many ethnic and cultural groups within the United States embrace both Eastern and Western ideologies, a combination that may produce unique memory profiles. These profiles may, in turn, influence behaviors and cognitions. For example, one line of research in our lab examines the relationship between cultural ideology and memories for food-related events from childhood. Preliminary work suggests that adults' eating behaviors and habits are influenced by childhood memories about food. Our work aims to understand subcultural differences in these memories, as they may play a crucial role in addressing obesity within the U.S. in a culturally-sensitive manner. Other areas of research include sociocultural differences in infantile amnesia. Specifically, we are interested in examining how cultural ideology and technology usage may influence the volume and content of memories recalled from the first five years of life.
Children are often asked to report events from memory and identify the sequence in which event elements took place. We are interested in identifying the age at which children comprehend certain temporal terms such as “after”, “before”, “first”, and “last." In these studies, young children are presented with event elements and asked to identify actions in the sequence such as "What happened after the girl played on the swing?" The findings from these studies will help inform current child questioning practices to ensure that children are being questioned in developmentally appropriate methods.
TAKEN VIRTUALLY THROUGH ZOOM
CHILDREN'S MEMORY PROJECT
TAKEN IN-PERSON AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
We are conducting a single-session, online study about how children understand stories to better understand how children interpret events and questions about those events, the findings from which may inform best child interviewing practices. We are looking for families with children ages 3-6 years.
We are conducting a three-session, in-person and online (hybrid) study that looks at children’s ability to understand and remember event sequences! We are looking for families who are able to commute to campus with children ages 4-9 years.Sign Up for Sequencing Study Sign Up for Children's Memory Project
Research in the Child Narratives Lab focuses on how social context and individual differences influence children's reports about past events. More specifically, we address questions about how the conditions under which children experience events and the conditions in which they are asked to remember those events influence how and what they recall. We are also interested in studying how individual differences in cognitive and narrative skills contribute to children's abilities to report about past events.
Many of the research questions we address in the lab apply directly to the real world. For example: how do attorney questions and child witness responses influence jury decisions? How do child interviewers elicit credible, accurate reports from children? How can parents help children develop their narrative skills? How should adults talk with young children about negative past experiences and how can we facilitate their recovery from those experiences?
Work as a research assistant focuses heavily on psychological concepts, with some studies focusing on the intersection between psychology & law. A background in psychology and/or law is encouraged, but not required. No prior experience needed.
Work as a recruitment assistant is focused on managerial tasks, meaning an understanding of psychology and/or law is not required. Recruitment assistantships are open to any major and/or background. No prior experience needed.
For more information about what each position entails, please review our application:
Undergraduate and Post-Baccalaureate Scholars:
Please note all undergraduate positions are unpaid , though students are eligible to enroll in Social Ecology 198 for unit credit.