Source memory and social exchange in young children

Xianwei Meng*, Tatsunori Ishii, Kairi Sugimoto, Shoji Itakura, Katsumi Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Reciprocal interactions require memories of social exchanges; however, little is known about how we remember social partner actions, especially during childhood when we start forming peer-to-peer relationships. This study examined if the expectation-violation effect, which has been observed in adults’ source memory, exists among 5–6-year-old children. Forty participants played a coin collection game where they either received or lost coins after being shown an individual with a smiling or angry expression. This set-up generated congruent (smiling-giver and angry-taker) versus incongruent (smiling-taker and angry-giver) conditions. In the subsequent tasks, the children were asked to recall which actions accompanied each individual. The children considered the person with incongruent conditions as being stranger than the person with congruent conditions, suggesting that the former violated the children’s emotion-based expectations. However, no heightened source memory was found for the incongruent condition. Instead, children seem to better recognise the action of angry individuals than smiling individuals, suggesting that angry facial expressions are more salient for children’s source memory in a social exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug


  • Children
  • Expectation-violation
  • Facial expression
  • Memory
  • Negativity bias
  • Social development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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