Age-Related Similarities and Differences in Framing Selective Memory in Terms of Gains and Losses
Dillon H. Murphy, Alan D. Castel, and Barbara J. Knowlton
We examined whether framing younger and older adults learning goals in terms of maximizing gains or minimizing losses impacts their ability to selectively remember high-value information. Specifically, we presented younger and older adults with lists of words paired with point values and participants were either told that they would receive the value associated with each word if they recalled it on a test or that they would lose the points associated with each word if they failed to recall it on the test. We also asked participants to predict the likelihood of recalling each word to determine if younger and older adults were metacognitively aware of any potential framing effects. Results revealed that older adults expected to be more selective when their goals were framed in terms of losses, but younger adults expected to be more selective when their goals were framed in terms of gains. However, this was not the case as both younger and older adults were more selective for high-value information when their goals were framed in terms of maximizing gains compared with minimizing losses. Thus, the framing of learning goals can impact metacognitive decisions and subsequent memory in both younger and older adults.