Metamemory for Prospective Memory Performance in Younger and Older Adults: Does the Reference Point Affect our Judgments?

This pre-registered online study investigated whether metamemory can explain age differences in prospective memory (PM) and whether it is affected by A) the reference point used to evaluate performance and B) the order of presentation of the instruments. Half of the participants were asked to estimate their upcoming PM performance with a general confidence rating (performance condition) whereas the other half were asked to compare it to other people of their age (peers condition). They also completed some metamemory questionnaires, either at the beginning of the experimental session or after the PM task, in a counterbalanced order. We did not observe the age decline in PM performance typically observed in similar laboratory-based tasks. Younger and older participants were similarly underconfident in the performance condition and overconfident in the peers condition. Moreover, older adults reported significantly better PM abilities than younger adults, and participants generally reported more memory failures when the metamemory questionnaires were administered after the PM task and in the performance condition. These findings point to reactive effects of metamemory to metacognitive reference point and order of administration of the instruments, and highlight the importance of taking these aspects into account when designing metamemory studies and interpreting the results. Furthermore, the findings show that both younger and older adults have limited metacognitive insights. This result has relevant implications as decisions on metacognitive control strategies such as attention allocation or reliance on external aids will be based on biased expectations and might result in the adoption of maladaptive strategies.

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    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Publication date15/12/2021
Retention date14/12/2031
accessLevelPublicAccess levelPublic
duaNoneContract on the use of data
  • Scarampi, Chiara
  • Kliegel, Matthias orcid
  • Quality (0 Reviews)
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