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Few studies have examined the impact of age on reactivity to concurrent think-aloud (TA) verbal reports. The aim of this project was to test whether older adults exhibit greater negative reactivity to concurrent verbal reports than younger individuals. In Experiment 1, 31 older (mean age = 72.3) and 30 younger (mean age = 19.0) adults performed four cognitive tasks -- paired associates with instructions to form mediators, cube-comparison, a shortened version of the Raven's Matrices, two-digit mental multiplication -- while either thinking aloud or remaining silent. An age group by condition interaction emerged as older adults performed more accurately and took longer on the Raven's Matrices while thinking aloud. Condition did not affect performance on the other tasks. In Experiment 2, 30 older adults (mean age = 73.0) performed the Raven's Matrices, mental multiplication, and two modified matrix reasoning tasks in four varied orders while thinking aloud or remaining silent. Modified matrix reasoning tasks were used to test the hypothesis that older adult facilitation while thinking aloud is due to reduced effects of age-related inhibitory deficits. Once again older adults performed significantly better only on the Raven's Matrices while thinking aloud, however, the hypothesized explanation for the effect was not supported.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Neil Charness, Professor Directing Thesis; K. Anders Ericsson, Committee Member; Joyce Ehrlinger, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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