With advancing age, episodic memory performance shows marked declines along with concurrent reports of lower subjective memory beliefs. Given that normative age-related declines in episodic memory co-occur with declines in other cognitive domains, we examined the relationship between memory beliefs and multiple domains of cognitive functioning. Confirmatory bi-factor structural equation models were used to parse the shared and independent variance among factors representing episodic memory, psychomotor speed, and executive reasoning in one large cohort study (Senior Odyssey, N = 462), and replicated using another large cohort of healthy older adults (ACTIVE, N = 2802). Accounting for a general fluid cognitive functioning factor (comprised of the shared variance among measures of episodic memory, speed, and reasoning) attenuated the relationship between objective memory performance and subjective memory beliefs in both samples. Moreover, the general cognitive functioning factor was the strongest predictor of memory beliefs in both samples. These findings are consistent with the notion that dispositional memory beliefs may reflect perceptions of cognition more broadly. This may be one reason why memory beliefs have broad predictive validity for interventions that target fluid cognitive ability.

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Keywords Cognitive aging, memory, memory beliefs, processing speed, reasoning, structural equation modeling
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/13825585.2016.1218425
Journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Payne, B.R. (Brennan R.), Gross, A.L. (Alden L.), Hill, P.L, Parisi, J.M. (Jeanine M.), Rebok, G.W. (George W.), & Stine-Morrow, E.A.L. (Elizabeth A. L.). (2017). Decomposing the relationship between cognitive functioning and self-referent memory beliefs in older adulthood: what’s memory got to do with it?. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 24(4), 345–362. doi:10.1080/13825585.2016.1218425