, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 211-221

Prospective memory tasks related to goals and concerns are rated as more important by both young and older adults

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Abstract

There has been little research on variables that affect importance ratings for real prospective memory tasks (e.g., remembering to take medications). Our primary purpose was to test a claim in the motivational-cognitive model of prospective memory, namely that prospective memory tasks highly related to a person’s goals and concerns will be rated as more important. We also tested whether this relationship held in both young and older adults. A secondary purpose was to investigate age-related differences in the perceived importance of prospective memory tasks. Older adults and two younger adult groups completed a questionnaire that assessed current prospective memory tasks, their importance, and whether the tasks were related to participants’ goals and concerns. As predicted, participants provided higher importance ratings for prospective memory tasks that were highly relevant to their personal goals or concerns, and this was true for both young and older adults. Task importance ratings did not differ for older adults and young college students; however, young nonstudents rated their prospective memory tasks as less important than the other two groups. In all three groups, females gave higher prospective memory task importance ratings than males. In conclusion, our findings suggest that the importance of a prospective memory task is partly determined by its goal-relatedness. This newly demonstrated link suggests important avenues for future research, including research on the mechanisms through which goals improve prospective memory performance.

Responsible editor: H.-W. Wahl.