Examining age-related differences in knowledge updating in a categorized list-learning task
Hines, Jarrod Charles
MetadataShow full item record
Distinctive encoding is the processing of unique item-specific information in the context of more general relational or organizational information. It enhances memory performance for both younger and older adults (Smith, 2006). The current work examined how adults use distinctive encoding to aid their free recall performance and whether task experience alters subsequent use of a distinctive encoding strategy. At study participants saw a series of five-item taxonomically categorized lists (e.g., FRUITS). They were first required to generate a category-consistent label (e.g., TASTY FRUIT). In the guided condition, they were then required to generate a single word representing either (1) another category-consistent characteristic (e.g., GROWS) or (2) a characteristic that distinguished a study target from the other items (e.g., FUZZY for the target KIWI). In the self-initiated condition, participants were allowed to select an encoding strategy on their own. After test, all participants completed a second study-test phase with self-initiated strategies. Younger adults initially rated distinctive encoding as more effective, relative to relational encoding, than did older adults, and this difference persisted after test experience, indicating an age difference in learning about the relative superiority of distinctive processing. Consistent with these ratings, distinctive encoding was implemented more so by unguided younger adults than older adults in phase 1. However, both strategy use and recall performance were similar across age and study conditions in phase 2. Both older and younger adults were capable of utilizing distinctive encoding effectively following task experience, although perceptions of strategic effectiveness did not always correspond to self-initiated study behaviors.