Choice-supportive source monitoring: do our decisions seem better to us as we age?

Psychol Aging. 2000 Dec;15(4):596-606. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.15.4.596.


Participants were given several 2-option choices and then asked to review how they felt about their decisions, to review the details of their decisions, or to do an unrelated task. When later asked to attribute features to the previous options, in each condition older adults (64-83 years) attributed significantly more positive and fewer negative features to their chosen options than to foregone options. Younger adults' (18-22 years) attributions were as choice-supportive as those of older adults in the affective review condition but were less so in the other conditions. The age difference was present even when older and younger adults were equated for source identification and recognition accuracy. This study suggests that as people age, their tendency to distort memory in favor of the options they chose increases. In addition, it suggests that affectively reviewing choices increases younger adults' tendency toward choice-supportive memory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Middle Aged