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Exp Aging Res. 2019 Oct-Dec;45(5):436-459. doi: 10.1080/0361073X.2019.1664471. Epub 2019 Sep 13.

Prospective Memory Predictions in Aging: Increased Overconfidence in Older Adults.

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Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Education, University of Geneva , Geneva , Switzerland.
Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition, Université de Grenoble , France.
School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen , UK.



This study investigated whether young and older adults can predict their future performance on an event-based prospective memory (PM) task.


Metacognitive awareness was assessed by asking participants to give judgments-of-learning (JOLs) on an item-level for the prospective (remembering that something has to be done) and retrospective (remembering what to do) PM component. In addition, to explore possible age differences in the ability to adapt predictions to the difficulty of the task, encoding time and the relatedness between the prospective and the retrospective PM component were varied.


Results revealed that both age groups were sensitive to our task manipulations and adapted their predictions appropriately. Moreover, item-level JOLs indicated that for the retrospective component, young and older adults were equally accurate and slightly overconfident. For the prospective component, predictions were fairly accurate in young adults, while older adults were overconfident. Thus, results suggest that general overconfidence is increased in older adults and concerns both components of PM.


Findings regarding the conceptual differences between the prospective and retrospective components of a PM task, as well as the link between aging and metamemory in PM are discussed.

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