LEARNING OBJECTIVES

• What are the major types of memory self­evaluations?

• What age differences have been found in metamemory?

• How do younger and older adults compare on memory monitoring tasks? How is task experience important?

E

ugene has just reached his 70th birthday. How­ever, he is greatly concerned. He has believed since he was very young that this is the age when memory really goes downhill. He has a great fear of losing his memory completely. He has taken to asking people to repeat things to him over and over for fear he will forget them. It has taken a toll on his self-concept. He doesn’t feel that he has control over his life the way he used to.

How good is your memory? Are you absent – minded? Or are you like the proverbial elephant who never forgets anything? Like most people, you probably tend to be your own harshest critic when it comes to evaluating your memory performance. We analyze, scrutinize, nitpick, and castigate ourselves for the times we forget; we rarely praise ourselves for all the things we do remember, and we continue to be on guard for more memory slips. The self­evaluations we make about memory may affect our daily life in ways that traditionally were unrecog­nized. This is exactly what is happening to Eugene. His negative evaluations of his memory ability are creating much undue stress in his life.

The self-evaluations we make about memory are complex (Cavanaugh, 1996; Hertzog & Hultsch,

2000) . They are based not only on memory and per­formance per se but also on how we view ourselves in general, our theories about how memory works, what we remember from past evaluations, and our attributions and judgments of our effectiveness.