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Psychol Aging. 2003 Jun;18(2):332-9.

Aging and vocabulary scores: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University, New York 13244-2340, USA.


Vocabulary scores were examined in a total of 210 articles, containing 324 independent pairings of younger and older adults, from the 1986-2001 issues of Psychology and Aging. The average effect size, favoring the old, was 0.80 SD. Production tests yielded smaller effects (0.68 SD) than multiple-choice tests (0.93 SD). Both age and education were found to be partially independent determinants of performance in production tests; age effects disappeared in multiple-choice tests as soon as education was taken into account. In addition, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale--Revised Vocabulary subtest (D. Wechsler, 1981) was also found to be sensitive to the Flynn effect (J. R. Flynn, 1987; i.e., increasing test scores with advancing birth year). The results question the approach of using age-group equality in vocabulary scores as a check on sample equivalence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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