Research Topics

 

 

STRATEGIES & METACOGNITION

Strategy use is a critical component of intentional learning, memory, reasoning and decision-making. We have conducted a series of studies that examine different aspects of strategy use. A major issue is whether there are age differences in the spontaneous production of strategies for different memory tasks, including free recall and paired-associate recall. In paired-associate tasks, it is well known that using mediators to associate the words (such as generating a sentence or an interactive image) enhances later recall. We have run experiments that obtain self-reports about strategies used for individual items, as well as subjective evaluations of the effectiveness of strategies. We have also done research on individual differences in strategy use and associative learning, predicting effective strategy use from background abilities and beliefs. We have also evaluated strategy use in other tasks, including text comprehension and relational reasoning.

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INTELLIGENCE, INFORMATION PROCESSING, & AGING

A long standing interest for Chris Hertzog has been individual differences in intelligence and cognition, as well as individual differences in the effects of aging on intelligence. Earlier work by Warner Schaie and Chris Hertzog evaluated longitudinal stability in adult intelligence. Studies have also addressed the extent to which age changes in information processing speed drive age changes in intelligence, memory, and other cognitive abilities. Finally, several papers from the Victoria Longitudinal Study regarding individual differences in changes in information processing speed, intelligence, semantic memory, and episodic memory have been published. We have also evaluated relationships between self-reported activities, intelligence, and cognition.

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MEMORY CONTROL THEORY & MEMORY BELIEFS

We have had a long-standing interest in beliefs about memory, including beliefs about self-efficacy and control. Recently, we have been measuring personal theories about memory change over the adult life span, for people in general, not just for oneself. The goal is to relate beliefs about aging and memory to personal beliefs, and to understand how both kinds of beliefs may influence behavior in laboratory tasks and in everyday life. We have also examined how causal attributions about memory performance by self and others are related to underlying implicit theories about aging and memory.  An interesting question is whether people’s beliefs that their own memory is declining is an accurate description of what is happening to their memory functioning. Alternatively, it may be a reflection of their underlying implicit theory that aging causes memory to decline.

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METACOGNITIVE JUDGMENTS & MONITORING

A major focus in our lab is on understanding metacognitive monitoring (monitoring the status of the cognitive system) during experimental tasks. Can individuals discriminate between information they have learned well and information they have not learned well? If they believe they know the answer to a question, do they? To evaluate such questions our experiments often request that individuals make different kinds of metacognitive judgments, such as judgments of learning (predictions of future recall), feeling of knowing judgments, quality of encoding ratings, confidence ratings during a test, etc. These judgments may involve predicting or evaluating performance on an entire word list, story, etc. (what we call global judgments). The judgments may be made for smaller units of information, such as individual words, pairs of words to be associated, or idea units in stories. We often evaluate differences between younger and older adults in the accuracy of such metacognitive judgments.

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AGING & SKILL ACQUISITION

Chris Hertzog has collaborated on a series of studies examining acquisition of skill and automaticity in search/detection tasks. Data collected in conjunction with Wendy Rogers and Dan Fisk on individual differences in skill acquisition in visual search tasks, using intellectual abilities as predictors of rate of skill acquisition, has led to a series of papers evaluating whether older adults attain automaticity in memory search, visual search, and in the transition from visual search to memory retrieval in a noun-pair lookup task. Dayna Touron and Chris Hertzog have conducted a series of studies designed to demonstrate that slowed shifts to a retrieval strategy in the noun-pair task by older adults is volitional, occurs with awareness, and is influenced by older adults underconfidence in their ability to rely on memory as an effective cognitive resource.

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UTILIZATION OF MONITORING

An important issue in metacognition and aging is whether people use monitoring to guide their learning process. Do people devote more time and effort to learn difficult information? Do they opt to restudy items they haven’t yet learned well? Are there age differences in patterns of utilization of monitoring? In collaboration with John Dunlosky, our lab has run a number of experiments on this problem, several of which have been recently published.

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LONGITUDINAL STUDIES OF AGING

Dr. Hertzog has a long-standing interest in methods for analyzing longitudinal data, which derived from graduate studies with K. Warner Schaie on the Seattle Longitudinal Study, and have continued through additional collaboration and projects (such as work on the Victoria Longitudinal Studywith Professors Dixon & Hultsch.) This interest has resulted in a set of methodological papers on detecting change and applications of these methods to several data sets.
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