Are people accurate judges of their memory abilities? An investigation of subjective and objective measures of prospective and retrospective memory.
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This study investigated the relationship between people’s subjective and objective measures of their prospective and retrospective memory abilities. The participants were all aged between 18 and 30 and were predominantly final year undergraduate students. Participants were issued the Prospective and Retrospective Memory Questionnaire (Smith, 2000) as a measure of their subjective prospective and retrospective memory abilities. As a measure of objective prospective memory ability participants had to verify two hundred sums whilst monitoring a stopwatch and remembering to verbally alert the experimenter after every two minutes had passed. As a measure of objective retrospective memory ability participants had to again verify a series of two hundred sums and during the task they were shown nine pictures from the Doors and People Test (Baddeley et al, 1994.) At the end of the task the participants had to remember which pictures were shown at the beginning, middle and end of the task. A Spearman’s correlation matrix showed that there was not a significant correlation between subjective and objective measures of memory in either prospective memory or retrospective memory. Implications of the finding that people are not accurate judges of their own memory abilities are discussed and suggestions for future research given.