Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 885–895 | Cite as

Memory performance in older adults: Experimental evidence for the indirect effect of memory self-efficacy on processing efficiency through worry

  • Marine BeaudoinEmail author
Original Paper


This research examined the mediating role of worry in the relationship between memory self-efficacy (MSE) and processing efficiency during episodic memory performance in older adults. We conducted an experimental study in which we manipulated older adults’ MSE using a false feedback paradigm. The memory task was adapted to provide an indicator of performance effectiveness (recall score) and an indicator of processing efficiency (ratio of recall score to number of encoding trials needed). We measured participants’ worry and emotionality before task completion. The causal impact of MSE condition (high vs. low MSE) on processing efficiency was significantly mediated through worry, with lower MSE leading to increased worry, which predicted impaired processing efficiency. This study provides the first experimental evidence for the mediating effect of worry on the causal impact of MSE on processing efficiency in older adults when they perform challenging memory tasks. We discuss implications for the clinical diagnosis of cognitive impairment and for age-related disengagement from everyday cognitive activities.


Memory self-efficacy Performance effectiveness Processing efficiency Anxiety Worry Aging 



I would like to thank Elodie Falque, Adeline Guegan, and Lucile Letscher for their assistance with participants recruitment and data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures involving human participants were carried out in accordance with the Institution’s and/or National Research Committee’s ethical standards, and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and subsequent amendments, or with comparable ethical standards.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, LIP/PC2SGrenobleFrance

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