The self-reference effect (SRE) is the memory enhancement associated with information linked to self. Unlike 4- to 6-year-olds, adults show stronger memory enhancement when self-processing is “evaluative” (eSRE) than when self-processing is “incidental” (iSRE). Here, the developmental change from shallow to rich self-processing was programmatically explored. In Study 1, 6- to 11-year-olds (N = 189) showed an eSRE = iSRE pattern. However, eSRE magnitude was limited by ceiling effects. Avoiding ceiling effects, Study 2 showed a developmentally stable eSRE > iSRE pattern in 8- to 11-year-olds (N = 96; ηp2 = .06). Study 3 used a different paradigm to confirm that 8- to 11-year-olds are capable of evaluative encoding even without concrete self stimuli. However, the evaluative boost for children was smaller than that for adults (N = 104; ηp2 = .06). Results are discussed with reference to the developing self and its capacity to support memory.
- Self-reference effect