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Psychol Aging. 1998 Sep;13(3):355-67.

Production and perception of "verbosity" in younger and older adults.

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Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate School, California, USA. or


Older adults produced more off-topic speech (OTS) than younger adults during autobiographical interviews in previous studies, a finding attributed to age-related deficits in inhibiting irrelevant information. In this study, older adults produced more OTS than younger adults for autobiographical topics, but not for picture descriptions. A 2nd sample of younger and older participants rated older adults' story quality more positively than that of younger adults, a problematic finding for the inhibitory deficit explanation. Rater age affected ratings of how focused the speech was on the topic, suggesting age differences in criteria for OTS. These findings are consistent with the Pragmatic Change hypothesis, which maintains that older adults adopt communicative goals that emphasize the significance of life experiences rather than conciseness in their personal narratives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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