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Psychol Aging. 1990 Jun;5(2):236-41.

Everyday memory failure: age differences in appraisal and attribution.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami 33199.


A person perception paradigm was used to test 86 young and 84 older Ss for evidence of a double standard in appraising everyday memory failures of young and older targets. Vignettes were judged on separate Likert scales for possible attributions for the failure (ability, effort, task difficulty, chance, and 2 measures of attention), signs of mental difficulty, need for memory training, and indications of need for professional evaluation. Results confirmed a double standard used by young and old: The failures of older targets were judged as signifying greater mental difficulty and greater need for memory training than were the identical failures of young targets. Older Ss were more lenient overall than young Ss in their appraisals. Young Ss judged target persons' memory failures as signifying more mental difficulty, and they more readily recommend professional evaluation.

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