Objective memory performance is an important and widely- researched aspect of memory functioning. However, this proposal focuses upon another aspect, one about which little is presently understood, but one that has significance for mental health and for potential level of cognitive functioning as well: the appraisal of memory failure. A frequent suggestion, based largely on anecdotal evidence, is that people use a """"""""double standard"""""""" in appraising memory failure that is based upon the age of the person experiencing that failure. This project will employ a person-perception attribution paradigm in which subjects from several adult age groups will rate memory failures described as experienced by a young, middle-aged, or older adult target person. The outcome of these ratings will allow for an objective assessment of the existence, extent, and nature of a """"""""double standard"""""""" of memory appraisal. In order to derive a clear picture of the factors involved in memory appraisal, individual difference characteristics in additional to age will be measured. In the affective domain, measures of self-rated depression (demonstrated in several prior studies to be related to degree of memory complaint and in some cases to actual memory performance) and self-esteem will be made on all participants. In the cognitive domain, everyday cognitive activity level, self-rated memory functioning and objective memory performance will be measured. Locus of control will also be assessed. The significance of these measures separately, and in conjunction with age with regard to ratings of the target person's memory failure will be assessed. Considerable recent concern has focused on characteristics of volunteer samples in memory research. The effectiveness of memory training programs, as well as the generalizability of results obtained in memory training studies, could be dependent upon the nature of the sample volunteering for such programs/studies. A final phase of this project will address this issue by surveying participants' preference and willingness to volunteer for a list of projects described as being planned for the not-too-distant future. Embedded in the list will be studies involving both group and individual memory training. The results of this survey will yield data on the characteristics of those people most likely and those least likely to seek/accept opportunities for improvement of memory capability.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 1 (HUD)
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Florida International University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Erber, Joan T; Szuchman, Lenore T (2002) Age and capability: the role of forgetting and personal traits. Int J Aging Hum Dev 54:173-89
Erber, J T; Prager, I G (2000) Age and excuses for forgetting: self-handicapping versus damage-control strategies. Int J Aging Hum Dev 50:201-14
Erber, J T; Prager, I G (1997) Age and forgetfulness: absolute versus comparison decisions about capability. Exp Aging Res 23:355-67
Erber, J T; Caiola, M A; Williams, M et al. (1997) Age and forgetfulness: the effect of implicit priming. Exp Aging Res 23:1-12
Erber, J T; Szuchman, L T; Prager, I G (1997) Forgetful but forgiven: how age and life style affect perceptions of memory failure. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 52:P303-7
Erber, J T; Prager, I G; Williams, M et al. (1996) Age and forgetfulness: confidence in ability and attribution for memory failures. Psychol Aging 11:310-5
Erber, J T; Szuchman, L T (1996) Memory performance in relation to age, verbal ability, and activity. Exp Aging Res 22:59-72
Erber, J T; Danker, D C (1995) Forgetting in the workplace: attributions and recommendations for young and older employees. Psychol Aging 10:565-9
Erber, J T; Caiola, M A; Pupo, F A (1994) Age and forgetfulness: managing perceivers' impressions of targets' capability. Psychol Aging 9:554-61
Erber, J T; Rothberg, S T; Szuchman, L T et al. (1993) How physicians appraise everyday memory failures of patients across the adult life span. Exp Aging Res 19:195-207

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