Compared to What? The Effects of a Frame of Reference on Older Adults’ Subjective Memory

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Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition

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It is often unclear what comparisons older adults make when evaluating their own memory. If thinking about their memory relative to others, they may assess their own abilities differently than if comparing it to their past capabilities. To test the effect of reference frames on memory assessments and memory performance, we randomly assigned 120 older adults to one of three conditions in which we manipulated frames of reference (control, past-self comparison, or other adults comparison) on a memory self-efficacy questionnaire. Participants also completed general and specific memory predictions and an objective memory test. Participants in the past-self condition reported significantly lower global memory self-efficacy compared with the other adults and control conditions. No condition differences emerged for memory predictions, objective memory, or the likelihood of over- or underpredicting memory performance. These findings suggest that reference frames impact global memory self-efficacy, but do not influence the accuracy of subjective memory judgments.


Version of record can be found through Taylor and Francis.