Age-Based Beliefs About Memory Changes for Self and Others Across Adulthood
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This study is intended to clarify the nature of beliefs about aging and memory. Earlier experiments (e.g., Ryan, 1992) had demonstrated that more frequent everyday memory problems are expected for typical older adults than for typical young adults. We used three self-efficacy scales of the Metamemory in Adulthood instrument (Dixon & Hultsch, 1983) to examine whether age changes are anticipated for oneself as well as for typical adults. Volunteers (N = 224; mean age = 35 years) completed the questionnaire about the memory of either typical adults (aged 25, 45, 65, or 85 years) or themselves at one of these ages. The anticipation of decline was obtained on two of the three self-efficacy scales (i.e., capacity and change) for both typical adults and for oneself. In contrast to Ryan's 1992 study, significant differentiation between target ages of 45 and 65 was observed on these more age-sensitive measures. Beliefs about memory change across adulthood were no weaker for the self than for typical others. Hence, this study supports the potential influence of general age-based beliefs upon individual self-efficacy beliefs and memory performance.
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