The role of task understanding on younger and older adults’ performance

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 )
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Abstract: Objectives: Age-related performance decrements have been linked to inferior strategic choices. Strategy selection models argue that accurate task representations are necessary for choosing appropriate strategies. But no studies to date have compared task representations in younger and older adults. Metacognition research suggests age-related deficits in updating and utilizing strategy knowledge, but other research suggests age-related sparing when information can be consolidated into a coherent mental model.

Method: Study 1 validated the use of concept mapping as a tool for measuring task representation accuracy. Study 2 measured task representations before and after a complex strategic task to test for age-related decrements in task representation formation and updating.

Results: Task representation accuracy and task performance were equivalent across age groups. Better task representations were related to better performance. However, task representation scores remained fairly stable over the task with minimal evidence of updating.

Discussion: Our findings mirror those in the mental model literature suggesting age-related sparing of strategy use when information can be integrated into a coherent mental model. Future research should manipulate the presence of a unifying context to better evaluate this hypothesis.

Additional Information

Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 74(2), 264-274
Language: English
Date: 2019
Concept mapping, Mental models, Strategies

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