Performance predictions improve prospective memory and influence retrieval experience

Can J Exp Psychol. 2011 Mar;65(1):12-8. doi: 10.1037/a0022784.


In retrospective memory, performance predictions have been found to enhance performance on subsequent memory tests. In prospective memory, the influence of metacognitive judgments on performance has not been investigated systematically. In the present study, 140 undergraduate students performed a complex short-term memory task that included a prospective memory task. Half of them gave performance predictions after the prospective memory task instructions. In addition, the specificity of the prospective memory task was manipulated by instructing participants either to perform an action when a word that belongs to the category of musical instruments was presented or to respond when the word "trumpet" was presented. The results showed that performance predictions enhanced performance, but only for the categorical task. Additional analyses of retrieval experience showed that performance predictions lead to an increase in search experiences while cue specificity was accompanied by an increase in pop up experiences. The results indicate that performance predictions can improve prospective performance and thus may be a valuable strategy for assisting prospective memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vocabulary