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J Gerontol. 1989 Nov;44(6):P170-5.

Young and older adults' appraisal of memory failures in young and older adult target persons.

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Department of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami.


A person-perception approach was employed to investigate people's appraisal of young or older target persons' everyday memory failures as described in 28 vignettes of more serious and less serious types of memory failure. In Experiment 1 of the study, 115 young adults rated each of 28 memory failure vignettes on a 7-point seriousness scale. Mrs. X, the target person in the vignettes, was described either as age 30 or 70. Vignettes in the more serious category were rated, as expected, more stringently than vignettes in the less serious category. Also, the young subjects rated Mrs. X age 70 more stringently than Mrs. X age 30, regardless of the seriousness level of the vignettes. In Experiment 2, 79 older adults evaluated the same vignettes, again with Mrs. X either age 30 or 70. Again, vignettes in the more serious category were rated more stringently than vignettes in the less serious category. However, older adults rated Mrs. X age 30 and Mrs. X age 70 equivalently. In a final overall analysis, older adults were more lenient than the young in memory failure judgments, and their differential leniency was most apparent in judgments of the serious vignettes.

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