UBC Theses and Dissertations
The influence of personality and demands of the environment of prospective memory performance Cuttler, Carrie
Prospective memory is memory for recollecting intentions, plans, promises, and agreements. Individuals' performance on tasks requiring prospective memory varies a great deal. We explored whether some of this variability stems from individual differences in personality and demands of the environment. As a secondary objective we explored whether the age-related changes in prospective memory performance that have previously been attributed to declining cognitive resources can also be explained by age-related differences in personality and demands of the environment. Participants were community-dwelling healthy individuals (n = 141) between 18 and 81 years of age. Participants completed three different prospective memory tasks. Two of these tasks were lab-based - the intention had to be executed in the laboratory, while the third was field-based - the intention had to be executed in the context of the participants' daily life and activities. Participants also completed various indicators of personality, demands of the environment, and cognitive ability. The results indicated that personality and demands of the environment reliably predicted who will succeed and who will fail on all three prospective memory tasks. However, the best predictors of performance varied across the three prospective memory tasks. Specifically, conscientiousness predicted performance on the field task and one of the lab tasks while socially prescribed perfectionism and neuroticism each predicted performance on one of the lab tasks. Accordingly, the influence of personality and demands of the environment on the relationship between age and prospective memory performance also varied across the three tasks. On some prospective memory tasks age-related differences in personality and demands of the environment compounded with older adults' declining cognitive resources to impair prospective memory performance while on other tasks they acted as a partial or a complete buffer against these declining cognitive resources.
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