Aging and selective engagement: The moderating impact of motivation on older adults' resource utilization

Journal Article

Two studies were conducted to examine age differences in the impact of motivation in a social cognitive task. We tested the hypothesis that aging is associated with an increase in the selective engagement of cognitive resources in support of performance. Different-aged adults read descriptions of 2 people in order to determine which was better suited for a particular job. These descriptions contained behaviors that were either consistent or inconsistent with the job, and participants performed the task under conditions of high versus low accountability. Examination of memory for behavioral information revealed that accountability disproportionately affected older adults' performance, with the locus of this effect being in conscious recollection processes. This supports the aforementioned selective engagement hypothesis by demonstrating that the differential impact of the motivational manipulation was based in deliberative memory processes.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Hess, TM; Germain, CM; Swaim, EL; Osowski, NL

Published Date

  • 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 64 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 447 - 456

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1079-5014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geronb/gbp020