Aging and task representation updating

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David Joseph Frank (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Dayna Touron

Abstract: Older adults’ performance decrements can sometime be traced back to inferior strategic choices compared to their younger counterparts. Additionally, older adults often fail to revise their strategic choices with task experience (Bieman-Copland & Charness, 1994; Brigham & Pressley, 1988; Lovett & Schunn, 1999; Price, Dunlosky, & Hertzog, 2008; Touron & Hertzog, 2004a, 2004b; Touron, Hoyer, & Cerella, 2004). Metacognitive models of strategy selection suggests that beliefs, prior knowledge, goals, and task representation influence strategic decisions (e.g., Winne & Hadwin, 1998). No studies to date have attempted to compare task representation in older and younger adults to determine whether older adults’ poor strategic choices might be driven by an impoverished understanding of the tasks they are asked to engage in. In two studies we used a pathfinder methodology to elicit conceptual knowledge about a novel chemistry task. In both studies, more conceptual knowledge was related to superior task performance in both younger and older adults. However, we found no evidence of age-related deficits in task representation, formation, or utilization. Surprisingly, participants’ task representation scores did not improve following task practice. However, performance improved over trials, even for items that had to be learned with task practice, suggesting that task representation updating did occur. These findings provide indirect evidence of task representation updating in both younger and older adults. However, no age deficits in the ability to update task representations were found. Exploratory analyses suggest that performance in younger adults was related to motivational issues, whereas performance in older adults was driven by higher levels of processing speed and crystallized intelligence.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Aging, Decision making, Mental models, Strategies, Task representation, Updating
Decision making
Problem solving
Aging $x Psychological aspects
Cognition $x Age factors
Ability, Influence of age on

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