Older Adults' Use of Retrieval Strategies in Everyday Life

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dayna R. Touron, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Background: Despite declines in cognitive abilities, older adults often perform comparable to younger adults in everyday tasks [J Am Geriatr Soc 1999;47:172-183]. Older adults may compensate for cognitive declines by using more efficient strategies. People often improve their efficiency by switching from an algorithmic strategy where information is computed or looked-up, to a strategy where the information is retrieved directly from memory [J Exp Psychol Gen 1988;117:258-275]. However, older adults are reluctant to shift from algorithmic strategies to retrieval strategies in the laboratory, and this reluctance to use retrieval is driven by both bottom-up (slower learning) and top-down influences (memory confidence, motivation to be quick/accurate) [Psychol Aging 2004;19:452-466; Mem Cognit 2004;32:298-310]. Objective: We investigated whether bottom-up and top-down factors influence younger and older adults' decisions to use retrieval-based or algorithmic strategies in everyday life. Methods: In two studies, participants completed a daily diary for 5 (study 1) or 7 (study 2) days. Participants were asked if and how they completed daily activities within several everyday task domains. They also indicated for how long and how often they completed the specific activity (bottom-up factors), as well as how confident they were in using their memory and how motivated they were to perform the specific activity quickly and accurately (top-down influences). Results: Both studies provided evidence for bottom-up and top-down influences. Additionally, study 2 found that top-down factors (memory confidence and motivation to be quick) were more important for older compared to younger adults. Conclusion: These results indicate that strategy choices influence older adults' cognitive efficiency in everyday as well as laboratory learning.

Additional Information

Gerontology, 62(6), 624-635. [2016]
Language: English
Date: 2016
Strategies, Automaticity, Aging, Skill acquisition, Experience sampling

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