Age differences in cue utilization during prospective and retrospective memory monitoring.

Memory monitoring is an inferential process that we use to evaluate and make judgments about the contents of our memory. Prior work has shown age-related similarity in prospective monitoring of ongoing memory processes, but age-related deficits when retrospectively monitoring the source of memories. In the current study, we examined how extrinsic and intrinsic cues influence age differences in these 2 forms of memory monitoring. Two experiments were conducted in which young and older adults made prospective judgments of learning (JOLs) to monitor ongoing memory processes as well as retrospective source judgments during retrieval. The emotional valence of words (positive, negative, and neutral) served as an intrinsic cue across experiments. Extrinsic importance cues were manipulated via item-based directed forgetting cues (to-be-remembered versus to-be-forgotten cues) in Experiment 1 and value-based cues (+10 versus −10 cues) in Experiment 2. Results provide novel evidence for age-related similarity in use of extrinsic and intrinsic cues during prospective memory monitoring via JOLs. By contrast, during retrospective source monitoring, older but not young adults showed a bias to attribute positive items to extrinsic cues with higher importance, even when those attributions were inaccurate. These findings suggest that the age-related tendency to favor positive information may lead to systematic errors in retrospective monitoring, which has implications for the credibility of older adults’ source judgments when monitoring memory for emotional events. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)