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Chapter 7

PSYC 357 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Problem Solving, Speech Perception, Memory Span

Course Code
PSYC 357
Wendy Thornton

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LANGUAGE (p.144)
Cognitive Aspects of Language
-Older adults read slower compared to younger adults
-In written language: older adults may experience deficits in retrieval that can lead to spelling errors
-Older adults retain their knowledge of grammatical rules, declines in working memory can cause older
adults to lose track of what they mean to say while they're saying it
oAffects complexity of grammatical structures
-Older adults use the right hemisphere when processing speech, a reversal of the left hemispheric
dominance seen in more younger adults
Factors that contribute to decline Factors that contribute to preservation
Slower reading rate Semantic memory is retained or greater
Changes in hearing and speech perception Able to get the “gist” of the story
Slowing of cognitive functions No problems with paralinguistic elements of speech
Retrieval deficits Activates the right hemisphere more
Simpler grammatical structures Greater experience with language
Working memory deficits More cognitive complexity
Social Aspects of Language (p. 147)
Older adults reminisce is with others about experiences from the past
-Reminiscing serves the function of solidifying relationships and building shared identities with others from
their generation
Elderspeak – speech pattern directed at older adults similar to the way people talk to babies
-Involves simplifying your speech as much as you would talk to a child
-Leaving out complex words or talking in a patronizing or condescending tone of voice
-Offering unnecessary help, making personal comments about appearance, or talking in short and simple
Communication Predicament Model of Aging (p. 148)
-Older adults are thought of as mentally incapacitated, leading younger people to talk to them in a simplified
manner, which over time can have the effect of reducing the older adult’s actual ability to use language
-Infantilization phenomenon – the older person loses the incentive to attempt to regain self-sufficiency in
the basic activities of daily life
Characteristics of Problem Solving
Problem solving involves…
-Assessing deciding on an end goal finding a solution evaluating the outcome
Problem solving that lacks clear goals are an increased cognitive burden
Problem Solving in Adulthood

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-Most of everyday problems can be solved in different ways
-If they are familiar with a problem or type of problem, they can get to a solution more quickly and effectively
than a novice
-Greater experience can enhance problem-solving skills in adults and feelings of self-efficacy
-Expert problem solvers are able to avoid information overload by honing on specific areas that experience
has taught them are important to consider
oIn the area of medical decision making, older adults are able to weigh a number of factors and
make complex choices more quickly than can young adults
-Older adults can make choices that are better founded and less subject to extraneous factors
-Older problem solvers may think that they are doing a better job at problem solving than younger adults
but, by objective criteria, they may not be considering alternative solutions as effectively and can therefore
make an error
oFocuses on solution rather than considering others
-Older adults may stick with one pattern of response when the solution calls for a range of ideas
-In older monkeys: inconsistent in their selection strategies and rather than using a deliberate strategy,
seemed to make their choices more randomly
-Research on adults’ decision-making speed confirms that older people are able to reach an answer more
quickly than younger people who either lack the knowledge or ability to categorize that knowledge
-Older people more apt to make quick decisions in areas in which they do not have expertise
-Less likely to seek more information once they have made a decision
oNot as dependent on incoming information as much as younger people OR
oLess able to organize multiple sources of information – so they make decisions based on
experience rather than on new data presented
-Everyday Problems Test (EPT)
oRelated to education
oPoor performance level on the EPT is related to slower and inconsistent reaction times for older
Adult Learners
Formal operations – the ability of adults and adolescents to use logic and abstract symbols in arriving at solutions
to complex problems
Postformal operations – way that adults structure their thinking over and beyond that of adolescents
-Incorporates the tendency of the mature individual to use logical processes specifically geared towards the
complex nature of adult life
-Able to judge when to use formal logic and when, alternatively, to rely on other and simpler modes of
representing problems
Dialectical thinking – interest in and appreciation for debate, arguments, and counterarguments
-Understands that truth is not “a given”, but rather that people come to an understanding through a
negotiating process of give and take
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