Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Deborah K. Eakin

Committee Member

Gary L. Bradshaw

Committee Member

Jarrod Moss

Committee Member

Andrew Jarosz

Date of Degree

8-6-2021

Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 1 year

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Major

Applied Psychology (Cognitive Science concentration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Abstract

Older adults' ability to make accurate metamemory judgments indicates that aging spares metamemory (Eakin & Hertzog, 2006; 2012a; but see Souchay et al., 2006). However, age differences in metamemory accuracy for emotional information, particularly lists of positive and neutral words, indicate potential age-related impairment of metamemory (Tauber & Dunlosky, 2012; Flurry & Eakin, manuscript in preparation). These age differences may be explained by potential cue overshadowing effects (Price & Yates, 1993) in which older adults primarily used the salient cue, emotional valence, and overlooked additional cues that were diagnostic of memory. We hypothesized that age differences in metamemory for emotional words may be eliminated when older adults have a second salient and diagnostic cue to inform judgments of learning (JOLs). We manipulated multiple cues, emotional valence and endorsement (Craik & Tulving, 1975), using a category inclusion task in which participants responded "yes" or "no" to endorse positive words (e.g. "champion") or neutral words (e.g. "sphere") as category members (e.g. "is an achievement"). Age comparisons in free recall and JOL magnitude between levels of emotional valence (positive, neutral) and levels of endorsement (yes, no) indicate that both younger and older adults' JOL magnitudes responded to emotional valence and endorsement effects in which memory was higher for positive than neutral words, and "yes" versus "no" words. JOL accuracy results demonstrate that both age groups' JOLs were significantly accurate above chance within each level of valence and endorsement. Age comparisons in JOL accuracy suggest that including a second salient cue eliminated previously reported age differences in metamemory for positive and neutral words. These results demonstrate that older adults can use multiple cues to make accurate JOLs in the presence of a salient cue. This finding supports a conclusion that previously reported age differences in metamemory for emotional words can be attributed to cue overshadowing effects that diminished older adults' ability to use multiple cues. This conclusion has implications on the aging and metamemory literature such that additional age differences reported in episodic metamemory may also be attributed to conditions that hindered multiple cue use by older adults.

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