Adult age differences in the use of story structure in delayed free recall

Sara W. Smith, George W. Rebok, William Ray Smith, Susan E. Hall, Mary Alvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thirty-six young adults (M age = 24.3 years) and 36 old adults (M age = 71.8 years) listened to four double-episode stories having either standard, interleaved, or scrambled structure. Two days later they were asked to recall the stories. Analysis of the mean number of nodes recalled revealed no age differences in the recall of standard and scrambled stories with both groups recalling the standard stories equally well and the scrambled stories equally poorly. However, for interleaved stories, young adults followed their pattern of recall for standard stories while old adults followed their pattern for scrambled stories. Also, the age groups differed in their pattern of additions and distortions, with old adults giving more for standard stories and young adults giving more for scrambled stories. Results appear to support models of age-related differences in memory processes and/or strategies when material must be reorganized or hierarchized. Possible metacognidve differences were also discussed; i.e., old adults may aim to tell the story interestingly, while young adults aim to tell it accurately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Aging Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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