Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
While both theory of mind and meta memory involve meta level thought, each has generally been restricted to different areas of research. This study sought to explore the connection between these abilities in older adults, as it has been examined in young children (Lockl & Schneider, 2007). Twenty-three older adults (mean age = 67) and 22 young adults (mean age = 19) completed two theory of mind tasks and a metamemory questionnaire. The theory of mind tasks consisted of (a) The Theory of Mind Story Task (ToMST) (Happé, Winner, & Brownell, 1998) and (b) a task developed specifically for this study, the What Would You Do? Questionnaire (WWYD). Metamemory was measured by The Metamemory in Adulthood Questionnaire (MIA) (Dixon & Hultsch, 1983). In addition,a vocabulary test, a test of short-term memory, and a working memory taskwere administered.
Results indicated a statistical relationship between theory of mind performance on the ToMST and the MIA in older adults, specifically in relation to thebelief that one’s memory will decline over time. However, this relationship was not sustained after accounting for performance on the vocabulary task. A relationship was also found between theory of mind performance on the ToMST and knowledge about task-related variables in young adults, as assessed by the MIA.
No relationships were found between theory of mind performance on the WWYD and MIA. The role of expressive language abilities in both theory of mind and metamemory in old age is discussed.
Bressler, Alyssa Caroline."Theory of Mind and Metamemory in Old Age" PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2014.