Applied Cognitive Psychology

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The roles of meaningfulness and prior knowledge in younger and older adults' memory performance

Summary Meaningfulness and prior knowledge can have differing effects on both metamemory and memory performance. Personally relevant information may be deemed more meaningful, which often can serve as a mediating factor in memory performance. Additionally, information that is congruent with prior knowledge has been shown to be judged as easier to remember and often is better remembered. Both of these effects are most pronounced in older adults. The current study aimed to examine the impact of meaningfulness and prior knowledge on age‐related differences in metamemory (i.e., judgments of learning) and memory performance (i.e., recall and recognition) by manipulating subjective a priori familiarity and personal relevance using age‐relevant study materials (i.e., a student loan application and a Medicare application). Recall metamemory and recall performance results indicate that older adults, but not younger adults, were able to utilize meaningfulness and prior knowledge to boost memory performance.

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