Age Differences in Metamemory
Researchers have explored age differences in metamemory mainly by using questionnaires (see Berry, 1999; Hertzog & Hultsch, 2000 for reviews). Many questionnaires have been developed over the years. Some of them, such as the Metamemory in Adulthood questionnaire (Dixon, Hultsch, & Hertzog, 1988) and the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (Gilewski, Zelinski, & Schaie, 1990), tap several different areas of knowledge about memory, including knowledge about strategies, tasks, change with age, and capacity. Other questionnaires, such as the Memory Self-Efficacy Questionnaire (Berry, West, & Dennehey, 1989) and the Memory Controllability Inventory (Cavanaugh & Baskind, 1996; Lachman, Bandura, Weaver, & Elliott, 1995), assess specific aspects of memory beliefs.
The pattern of age differences in metamemory is interesting. Older adults seem to know less than younger adults about the internal workings of memory and its capacity, view memory as
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less stable, expect that memory will deteriorate with age, and perceive that they have less control over memory (Blatt-Eisengart & Lachman, 2004; Hertzog & Hultsch, 1995; Lane & Zelinksi, 2003; Lineweaver & Hertzog, 1998; McDonald-Miszczak, Ryan & Kwong See, 1998; Soderberg & Lachman,
1999) . The belief in inevitable decline with age is potentially damaging. For example, the belief that memory inevitably declines may negatively influence the performance of older adults, as indicated in the studies of negative stereotypes, and may also discourage people from strategy training because they may think that it is useless and that there is little point in exerting effort to try and remember something that does not come to mind immediately (Cavanaugh, 1996).
Interestingly, the belief in inevitable decline does not apply equally to all aspects of memory. Older adults view memory for names as declining more rapidly than memory for things that happened long ago (Lineweaver & Hertzog, 1998). Similarly, adults report that different kinds of information pose different likelihoods of being troublesome. For example, remembering names is universally problematic, but especially for older adults (Cohen, 1993; Leirer, Morrow, Sheikh, & Pariante, 1990). In contrast, remembering to pay bills, meet appointments, and take medications appears to remain unchanged with age (Cohen, 1993).