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The Impact of Focusing on Different Features During Encoding on Young and Older Adults’ Source Memory

Karen J. Mitchell
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  • Department of Psychology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania W. Rosedale Avenue, West Chester, USA
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/ Erin M. Hill
Published Online: 2019-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/psych-2018-0008


Age-related source memory deficits result, in part, because young and older adults attend to different information. We asked whether focusing young and older adults‘ attention on specific features at encoding would result in similar subjective experiences of the vividness of the features and how this might affect source memory. Ratings of the vividness of visual detail, emotion, and associations were similar for young and older adults both when they were perceiving pictures and when they were thinking about them after a brief delay. Although young adults had better source memory than older adults, source accuracy did not differ depending on feature attended, and correlations between ratings and source memory showed that focus on the different types of information was equally predictive of source memory accuracy for young and older adults. Although preliminary, the results suggest that when attention is focused on specific information at encoding, young and older adults later use the various categories of source-specifying information similarly in making source attributions. Nevertheless, older adults did worse on the source test, suggesting they had less discriminable source information overall, this information was not well bound, and/or they experienced difficulty in strategic retrieval and monitoring processes.

Keywords: Aging; Encoding; Focused Attention; Source Memory


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About the article

Received: 2018-07-30

Accepted: 2018-10-21

Published Online: 2019-02-13

Published in Print: 2019-02-01

Citation Information: Open Psychology, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 106–118, ISSN (Online) 2543-8883, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/psych-2018-0008.

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© by Karen J. Mitchell, Erin M. Hill, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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