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Several previous studies have shown that whereas young adults perform better than older adults on prospective memory ( PM ) tasks in the laboratory, this superiority is often reversed in real-life PM tasks. The present studies investigated this paradox by creating a laboratory task in the form of a board game ( Virtual Week ) that mimicked many features of daily living. It was hypothesized that older adults might use strategies derived from their more structured lives to outperform young adults on the board game. However, contrary to our prediction, it was found that younger adults were superior. In Experiment 2 we had participants perform very similar PM tasks in real life ( Actual Week ), and found that now the older adults were generally superior to their younger counterparts. Possible reasons are discussed for this striking age-related difference between laboratory-based and naturalistic PM tasks.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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