Previous studies of metacognitive age differences in skill acquisition have relied exclusively on tasks with a processing shift from an algorithm to retrieval strategy. Thus, it is unclear whether older adults' (OAs') demonstrated reluctance to shift strategies is specific only to retrieval-based strategies or more general. Haider and Frensch's (1999) alphabet verification task (AVT) is a skill acquisition task which allows for a non-retrieval-based strategy shift. In the AVT a participant verifies alphabet strings such as D E F G  L, with the bracketed digit indicating a number of letters to be skipped. In a selective attention (SA) condition, deviations occur in only the letter-digit-letter triplet. Thus participants can shift to an abbreviated algorithm in which only the triplet is computed. This is considered a SA strategy, as one selectively attends only to the relevant portion of the stimuli. By adapting AVT to include conditions in which shift to a retrieval strategy, a SA strategy, or both strategies were possible, this study showed that older adults' shift reluctance is retrieval-specific. Older adults shifted more slowly to a retrieval strategy but more quickly to a selective attention strategy compared to young adults (YAs). Strategy confidence and perceived strategy difficulty correlated with both YAs' and OAs' shift to the two strategies. Perceived speed of the strategy was specifically related to OAs' strategy choice, suggesting that some OAs may avoid retrieval because they do not appreciate the benefits of retrieval. Strategy reports were validated by RT and eye movement data.
|Advisor:||Touron, Dayna R.|
|Commitee:||Delaney, Peter F., Sahakyan, Lili|
|School:||The University of North Carolina at Greensboro|
|Department:||College of Arts & Sciences: Psychology|
|School Location:||United States -- North Carolina|
|Source:||MAI 50/06M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Gerontology, Behavioral psychology, Psychology|
|Keywords:||Aging, Selective attention, Skill acquisition, Strategy|
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