Awareness of Memory Ability and Change: (In)Accuracy of Memory Self-Assessments in Relation to Performance.

TitleAwareness of Memory Ability and Change: (In)Accuracy of Memory Self-Assessments in Relation to Performance.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsRickenbach, EAHahn, Agrigoroaei, S, Lachman, ME
JournalJ Popul Ageing
Date Published2015 Mar 01
ISSN Number1874-7884

Little is known about subjective assessments of memory abilities and decline among middle-aged adults or their association with objective memory performance in the general population. In this study we examined self-ratings of memory ability and change in relation to episodic memory performance in two national samples of middle-aged and older adults from the Midlife in the United States study (MIDUS II in 2005-06) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS; every two years from 2002 to 2012). MIDUS (Study 1) participants (N=3,581) rated their memory compared to others their age and to themselves five years ago; HRS (Study 2) participants (N=14,821) rated their current memory and their memory compared to two years ago, with up to six occasions of longitudinal data over ten years. In both studies, episodic memory performance was the total number of words recalled in immediate and delayed conditions. When controlling for demographic and health correlates, self-ratings of memory abilities, but not subjective change, were related to performance. We examined accuracy by comparing subjective and objective memory ability and change. More than one third of the participants across the studies had self-assessments that were inaccurate relative to their actual level of performance and change, and accuracy differed as a function of demographic and health factors. Further understanding of self-awareness of memory abilities and change beginning in midlife may be useful for identifying early warning signs of decline, with implications regarding policies and practice for early detection and treatment of cognitive impairment.

User Guide Notes

Endnote Keywords

Subjective memory ability/Subjective memory change/Memory self-ratings/Episodic memory/Memory concerns/Memory complaints/Accuracy of self-assessments

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalJ Popul Ageing
Citation Key8184
PubMed ID25821529
PubMed Central IDPMC4371608
Grant ListP01 AG020166 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30 AG012846 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG017920 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States