Memory complaints in elderly people: the role of memory abilities, metamemory, depression, and personality

Rudolf W.H.M. Ponds*, Jellemer Jolles

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This study examined the relation between memory complaints, memory performance, and metamemory variables by comparing a group of elderly participants (n = 50) with memory complaints with a group of participants without memory complaints (n = 52). The groups were matched for age, sex, and education; mean age was 63 years. Data were also collected for personality variables (anxiety, neuroticism) and affective state. Metamemory was measured with the Metamemory in Adulthood (MIA) questionnaire. The memory tests used were the Auditory Verbal Learning Test, the Rivermead Behavioral Memory test, and two category fluency tasks. Significant group differences were found on all subscales of the MIA (except Locus) and for verbal fluency and depression. Logistic regression analysis with depression, memory performance, and the MIA as independent variables showed that only the memory self-efficacy factor of the MIA (Capacity, Change, and Anxiety subscales) could discriminate between the groups. Furthermore, those in the memory complaints group had higher scores for neuroticism than those in the no-complaints group, whereas no differences were found with respect to trait anxiety. The findings suggest that concern and complaints about memory in old age reflect memory self-efficacy beliefs rather than declining memory abilities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)341-357
    Number of pages17
    JournalEducational Gerontology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

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