Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Mary Levitt

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Third Advisor's Name

William Kurtines

Fourth Advisor's Name

Paul Foos


Ability, Influence of age on, Aging -- Psychological aspects, Performance -- Psychological aspects

Date of Defense



An experiment was conducted to compare the functional performance of young and old adults on familiar and unfamiliar tasks under two conditions of perceived control. Specifically, the relation between age and motor and process skills was examined. The familiar tasks were simple cooking tasks, whereas the unfamiliar tasks were contrived, meaningless tasks developed for this study. Young and old did not differ in the ratings of the familiarity of the tasks, but results from two Age by Task by Choice ANOVAs demonstrated a significant age difference for motor and process skills under all conditions. For the process skill scale, there was also a significant main effect for choice. This suggests that older adults demonstrate age-related decline even with activities that take motivational, experiential, and ecological validity components into account. Results also support the concept that perceived control can improve performance, but not differentially for older adults; that is, young and old adults both demonstrated improved performance when given their choice of tasks.



Included in

Psychology Commons



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