Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
The purpose of the present research was to investigate the effects of meaningfulness of stimulus phrases and orienting task conditions on free recall performance of older and younger adults in an incidental learning paradigm. It was expected that orienting tasks might affect the depth of processing, while meaningfulness would influence the spread of encoding. It was hypothesized that variables assumed to affect depth and elaborateness of semantic processing might also affect the direction of recall differences between older and younger adults.;Two studies were designed to evaluate the proposed hypotheses. In the first study, meaningfulness ratings were collected. Meaningfulness was defined in terms of the personal relevance of a series of phrases for older and younger adults. Thirty younger and thirty older adult subjects rated a series of 80 phrases for their meaningfulness. Examples included, "Making adjustments to cope with retirement" and "Practice teaching to fulfill course requirements". Subjects rated the phrases on a scale of "1" (Very Personally Irrelevant) to "7" (Very Personally Relevant).;Based on various selection criteria, 4 sets of phrases were designated as differentially meaningful (i.e., personally relevant) to older and younger adults. These were items high in meaningfulness (personal relevance) for older adults (HL) while relatively low on this dimension for younger adults, phrases relatively high in meaningfulness for younger adults while relatively low on this dimension for older adults (LH), phrases relatively high in meaningfulness for both older and younger adults (HH), and phrases relatively low on this dimension for both older and younger adults (LL). From these sets, a list of 40 stimulus phrases was selected for use in the second study.;The main study investigated free recall performance of 48 older and 48 younger adult subjects in a levels of processing paradigm. One-third of the subjects in each age group were assigned to a semantic, self-referent rating condition. Another one-third in each age group were assigned to a semantic, pleasant-unpleasant rating condition. The remaining one-third in each age group were assigned to a structural processing task condition. This task required subjects to report the presence of spelling errors in the words of the phrases. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of author.) UMI
Spencer, Farida, "Age Differences In Recall Of Meaningful Stimuli" (1984). Digitized Theses. 1346.