Date of Award

8-15-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Tara Johnson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David LaPorte, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Zimny, Ph.D.

Abstract

Few studies have directly examined destination memory, the ability to remember with whom information was shared. The current study replicated and extended previous research (i.e., Gopie, Craik, & Hasher, 2010; Gopie & MacLeod, 2009) and examined the effects of age (younger and older) and varied attentional resources on destination memory as well as a potential strategy (i.e., mental imagery) to improve destination memory. Using E-Prime software, participants (N = 192) told facts to celebrity faces in one of four conditions (i.e., control, internal focus of attention, external focus of attention, associative mental imagery) using random assignment. Similar to previous research, results indicated that older adults had lower destination memory accuracy than younger adults, which was driven by a higher level of false alarms. Additionally, younger adults were significantly more confident in accurate answers (i.e., hits and correct rejections), whereas older adults were significantly more confident in inaccurate answers (i.e., false alarms), indicating that older adults are more likely to withhold information from people because they think that they have already shared the information. Destination memory also varied by condition. Accuracy was lowest when participants' attention was directed internally and significantly improved when participants utilized provided associative imagery strategies. Contrary to expectations, the use of imagery did not differentially improve destination memory for older adults. However, when imagery strategies were used there was no age difference in false alarms or high-confidence inaccurate answers. Furthermore, an exploratory analysis found no difference in destination memory between younger and young-old adults (aged 65-74) when imagery strategies were used, yet older-old adults (aged 75+) did significantly worse than the other two age groups. Overall, the results suggest that not only are older adults more likely than younger adults to commit destination memory errors, they also are less accurate in confidence judgments related to those errors. However, the use of associative memory strategies may help improve destination memory across age groups, the accuracy of confidence judgments in older adults, and also may decrease, or potentially eliminate, age-related destination memory impairment, particularly in young-old adults.

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