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Psychology and Aging - Vol 32, Iss 4

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Psychology and Aging Psychology and Aging publishes original articles on adult development and aging. Such original articles include reports of research that may be applied, biobehavioral, clinical, educational, experimental (laboratory, field, or naturalistic studies), methodological, or psychosocial. Although the emphasis is on original research investigations, occasional theoretical analyses of research issues, practical clinical problems, or policy may appear, as well as critical reviews of a content area in adult development and aging.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Cognitive aging and the distinction between intentional and unintentional mind wandering.
    A growing number of studies have reported age-related reductions in the frequency of mind wandering. Here, at both the trait (Study 1) and state (Study 2) levels, we reexamined this association while distinguishing between intentional (deliberate) and unintentional (spontaneous) mind wandering. Based on research demonstrating age-accompanied deficits in executive functioning, we expected to observe increases in unintentional mind wandering with increasing age. Moreover, because aging is associated with increased task motivation, we reasoned that older adults might be more engaged in their tasks, and hence, show a more pronounced decline in intentional mind wandering relative to young adults. In both studies, we found that older adults did indeed report lower rates of intentional mind wandering compared with young adults. However, contrary to our expectations, we also found that older adults reported lower rates of unintentional mind wandering (Studies 1 and 2). We discuss the implications of these findings for theories of age-related declines in mind wandering. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Younger and older adults’ associative memory for social information: The role of information importance.
    The ability to associate items in memory is critical for social interactions. Older adults show deficits in remembering associative information but can sometimes remember high-value information. In two experiments, younger and older participants studied faces, names, and occupations that were of differing social value. There were no age differences in the recall of important information in Experiment 1, but age differences were present for less important information. In Experiment 2, when younger adults’ encoding time was reduced, age differences were largely absent. These findings are considered in light of value-directed strategies when remembering social associative information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Competing cues: Older adults rely on knowledge in the face of fluency.
    Consumers regularly encounter repeated false claims in political and marketing campaigns, but very little empirical work addresses their impact among older adults. Repeated statements feel easier to process, and thus more truthful, than new ones (i.e., illusory truth). When judging truth, older adults’ accumulated general knowledge may offset this perception of fluency. In two experiments, participants read statements that contradicted information stored in memory; a post-experimental knowledge check confirmed what individual participants knew. Unlike young adults, older adults exhibited illusory truth only when they lacked knowledge about claims. This interaction between knowledge and fluency extends dual-process theories of aging. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Adult age differences in production and monitoring in dual-list free recall.
    The present experiment examined adult age differences in the production and monitoring of responses in dual-list free recall. Younger and older adults studied 2 lists of unrelated words and were instructed to recall from List 1, List 2, or List 1 and List 2. An externalized free recall procedure required participants to: (a) report all responses that came to mind while recalling from specific lists, (b) classify responses as correct or incorrect, and (c) provide confidence judgments for their accuracy classifications. Relative to younger adults, older adults showed a monitoring deficit by misclassifying proportionally more responses and discriminating more poorly between correct and incorrect responses in their confidence judgments. This deficit was especially pronounced under conditions of retroactive interference that occurred when participants recalled from List 1 only. A comparison of retrieval dynamics for all responses produced and for those that participants were reasonably confident were correct provided information about age differences in preretrieval context reinstatement and postretrieval monitoring of retrieved context. One noteworthy finding was that total production when recalling from List 1 showed that List 2 responses remained more accessible across the first several retrieval attempts for older than younger adults, which indicated a substantial age difference in the ability to reinstate List 1 context. Overall, the present findings provide a nuanced characterization of age differences in the operation of production and monitoring mechanisms under conditions of proactive and retroactive interference that can inform models of free recall. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Healthy aging and visual working memory: The effect of mixing feature and conjunction changes.
    It has been suggested that an age-related decrease in the ability to bind and retain conjunctions of features may account for some of the pronounced decline of visual working memory (VWM) across the adult life span. So far the evidence for this proposal has been mixed with some suggesting a specific deficit in binding to location, while the retention of surface feature conjunctions (e.g., color-shape) appears to remain largely intact. The present experiments follow up on the results of an earlier study, which found that older adults were specifically poor at detecting conjunction changes when they were mixed with trials containing changes to individual features, relative to when these trials were blocked (Cowan, Naveh-Benjamin, Kilb, & Saults, 2006). Using stimuli defined by conjunctions of color and shape (Experiment 1), and color and location (Experiment 2) we find no evidence that older adults are less accurate at detecting binding changes when trial types are mixed. Further, analysis of estimates of discriminability provides substantial-to-strong evidence against this suggestion. We discuss these findings in relation to previous studies addressing the same question and suggest that much of the evidence for specific age-related VWM binding deficits is not as strong as it first appears. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Aging and the optimal viewing position effect in visual word recognition: Evidence from English.
    Words are recognized most efficiently by young adults when fixated at an optimal viewing position (OVP), which for English is between a word’s beginning and middle letters. How this OVP effect changes with age is unknown but may differ for older adults due to visual declines in later life. Accordingly, a lexical decision experiment was conducted in which short (5-letter) and long (9-letter) words were fixated at various letter positions. The older adults produced slower responses. But, crucially, effects of fixation location for each word-length did not differ substantially across age groups, indicating that OVP effects are preserved in older age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Greater perceived similarity between self and own-age others in older than young adults.
    As people age, they increasingly incorporate age-stereotypes into their self-view. Based on this evidence we propose that older compared to young adults identify to a greater extent with their own-age group on personality traits, an effect that may be particularly pronounced for positive traits. Two studies tested these hypotheses by examining associations in young and older adults between evaluations of self and own-age others on personality traits that varied on valence. In both studies, young and older participants rated personality trait adjectives on age typicality, valence, and self-typicality. Converging results across both studies showed that older compared to young participants were more likely to endorse personality traits as self-typical when those traits were also perceived as more typical for their own-age group, independent of whether age was made salient to participants prior to evaluation. In addition, there was evidence that the association between evaluations of self and own-age others in older participants was greater for more positive personality traits. This age-differential pattern is discussed in the context of increased age salience in aging and its effect on the similarity between evaluations of self and own-age others in older compared to young adults. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Genetic and environmental sources of individual differences in views on aging.
    Views on aging are central psychosocial variables in the aging process, but knowledge about their determinants is still fragmental. Thus, the authors investigated the degree to which genetic and environmental factors contribute to individual differences in various domains of views on aging (wisdom, work, fitness, and family), and whether these variance components vary across ages. They analyzed data from 350 monozygotic and 322 dizygotic twin pairs from the Midlife Development in the U.S. (MIDUS) study, aged 25–74. Individual differences in views on aging were mainly due to individual-specific environmental and genetic effects. However, depending on the domain, genetic and environmental contributions to the variance differed. Furthermore, for some domains, variability was larger for older participants; this was attributable to increases in environmental components. This study extends research on genetic and environmental sources of psychosocial variables and stimulates future studies investigating the etiology of views on aging across the life span. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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