The intention-superiority effect for naturally occurring activities: the role of intention accessibility in everyday prospective remembering in young and older adults
Freeman, J. E. and Ellis, J. A. (2003) The intention-superiority effect for naturally occurring activities: the role of intention accessibility in everyday prospective remembering in young and older adults. International Journal of Psychology, 38 (4). pp. 215-228. ISSN 0020-7594
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/00207590244000205
This study examined age differences in the accessibility of a single pool of naturally occurring intentions both before and after completion. Following Maylor, Darby, and Della Sala (2000), accessibility was measured in terms of the number of activities generated in a 4-minute activity fluency task. Each participant undertook two such tasks. A prospective task in which they generated activities intended for completion during the following week and a retrospective task, I week later, in which they generated activities carried out over the previous week. In a partial replication of Maylor et al.'s findings, young, but not healthy older, adults generated more to-be-completed intentions than completed ones, demonstrating an intention-superiority effect (ISE) for everyday activities. The absence of an ISE for older adults appeared to reflect the reduced accessibility of intentions prior to completion, rather than the impaired inhibition of fulfilled intentions. Moreover, both groups showed greater inaccessibility of completed than intended activities, thus demonstrating an intentioncompletion effect for naturally occurring intentions that is preserved in healthy ageing (cf. Marsh, Hicks, & Bink, 1998). Despite showing a reduced accessibility of intended activities, older adults reported having completed a greater proportion of their intentions during the week than young adults. Moreover, there was a correlation between the ability to access intentions and the proportion of intentions completed only for young adults. These observations suggest that older adults' everyday prospective memory performance may be relatively less dependent on intention accessibility and more dependent on other factors. While there was no age difference in the reported use and effectiveness of external retrieval aids, older adults demonstrated a greater level of temporal organization in the production of their intentions in the fluency task. This is consistent with the possibility that older adults may have more structured daily lives and may be able to use information about the sequence of ongoing events to support superior everyday prospective remembering.