Age differences in strategy shift: Retrieval avoidance or general shift reluctance?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David Joseph Frank (Creator)
Dayna R. Touron, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Previous studies of metacognitive age differences in skill acquisition strategies have relied exclusively on tasks with a processing shift from an algorithm to retrieval strategy. Older adults’ demonstrated reluctance to shift strategies in such tasks could reflect either a specific aversion to a memory retrieval strategy or a general, inertial resistance to strategy change. Haider and Frensch’s (1999) alphabet verification task (AVT) affords a non-retrieval-based strategy shift. Participants verify the continuation of alphabet strings such as D E F G [4] L, with the bracketed digit indicating a number of letters to be skipped. When all deviations are restricted to the letter-digit-letter portion, participants can speed their responses by selectively attending to only that part of the stimulus. We adapted the AVT to include conditions that promoted shift to a retrieval strategy, a selective attention strategy, or both strategies. Item-level strategy reports were validated by eye movement data. Older adults shifted more slowly to the retrieval strategy but more quickly to the selective attention strategy than young adults, indicating a retrieval-strategy avoidance. Strategy confidence and perceived strategy difficulty correlated with shift to the two strategies in both age groups. Perceived speed of responses with each strategy specifically correlated with older adults’ strategy choices, suggesting that some older adults avoid retrieval because they do not appreciate its efficiency benefits.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
metacognition, skill acquisition, retrieval avoidance, shift reluctance, psychology

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