Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Psychological Sciences

Document Type



The present study investigated age differences in the context-specificity effect in learning. Ambiguity was manipulated in two conditions in a predictive learning paradigm (Callejas-Aguilera & Rosas, 2010) to encourage participants to attend to context. In the ambiguous condition, foods led to the presence of the illness equally as often as its absence. In the non-ambiguous condition, foods consistently led to the presence of the illness or consistently lead to its absence. Participants were instructed to make predictive judgments for foods leading to the presence of an illness in one of two restaurant contexts. During the test, participants made predictive judgments of food-illness associations in the same context as learned and in the different context. A context-specificity effect was observed if predictive judgments were higher for a food presented in the same context as learned than in the different context. Younger adults displayed a context-specificity effect in the ambiguous condition, but not in the non-ambiguous condition. Older adults did not display a context-specificity effect in either condition. Results are discussed with implications for the attentional theory of context processing (Rosas, Callejas-Aguilera et al., 2006) and the aging associative deficit.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Sharon Mutter


Cognition and Perception | Psychology