Publication details [#3106]

Burns, Barbara B.C. 1992. Memory for metaphor: An age comparison. Columbia, Mo.. 174 pp.


This study investigated whether any relationship exists between age of adult subjects and either quantity or quality of recall of simple metaphoric sentences. Also examined was whether learning condition, incidental or intentional, would affect recall. Recall was tested for each subject by both a free and a cued recall task. There were 18 sentences in all for the free recall task. Cued recall followed free recall in all instances and was elicited by presenting the metaphoric grounds as cues. Ten of the 18 sentences were referenced in this manner. Two age groups of subjects were used. The older subjects ranged in age from 60 to 85 years (mean age, 70). The age range for young subjects was 18 to 27 years (mean age, 20). An orienting task requiring all subjects to estimate the number of possible meanings each sentence might have was used to ensure deep processing of the metaphors prior to recall. Recall quality was determined by use of a 9-category scale ranging from verbatim to very poor recall quality. Three raters (including the author) were used to assess quality category of subject protocols. In most cases there was agreement by all three raters. Results indicate that for both free and cued recall, the younger subjects recalled significantly more sentences at verbatim level, while older subjects recalled significantly more at gist level. The differences between age groups were greater at the verbatim level, at which more sentences were recalled by both age groups. There were no significant differences between age groups for recall categories of moderate accuracy. No learning condition effect was found. There was no significant difference between age groups in the mean proportion of additional sentences accessed by the cues during the cued recall task (given that the sentence was not recalled during the free recall task). But the proportion of additional sentences recalled was significantly greater for the intentional learning condition. (Dissertation Abstracts)