Frequency Discrimination vs Frequency Estimation: Adult Age Differences and the Effect of Divided Attention

S. A. Mutter, K. M. Goedert
1997 The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences  
In this experiment we explored age differences in frequency judgment. Young and older adults studied words occurring from one to six times under divided or focused attention and then completed either a frequency discrimination or a frequency estimation test for these items. Divided attention led to poorer performance on both frequency judgment tests, suggesting that distraction during the encoding of target events results in less optimal encoding of the information that is necessary for any
more » ... cessary for any type of frequency judgment. Contrary to the notion that older adults encode this information more superficially than young adults, older adults were as sensitive as young adults to relative differences in the frequency of target words, and distraction did not magnify age differences for either type of frequency judgment task. On the other hand, older adults were less accurate in assigning an absolute numerical value to the frequency of the target words. Altogether, the results are consistent with the idea that'the encoding and/or retrieval processes required for accurate numerical estimation of frequency suffer a larger age-related decline than do those required for accurate discrimination of relative frequency. P319
doi:10.1093/geronb/52b.6.p319 pmid:9403521 fatcat:vn6qj7iiyzabhbob436wo5hvmy