Everyday fluctuations in mood can influence our ability to remember to carry out intentions (prospective memory). Theories of mood-cognition interaction make differing predictions about the effects of positive and negative mood states on cognition that may change in aging. To test these predictions, we looked at the effects of age and induced mood on different types of prospective memory tasks. Results showed that on a task which required constant attentional monitoring (event-based prospective memory) young adults’ performance was impaired by negative mood, while older adults’ performance was not influenced by mood. Further analyses indicated that the deleterious effects of negative mood states in young participants were related to decreased monitoring. In another task which required more intermittent monitoring (time-based prospective memory), older adults’ performance actually improved under positive mood, whereas young adults showed no effect of mood. Contrary to predictions, these age differences were not related to improved emotion regulation in old age. We conclude that young adults are more likely than older to show prospective memory failures caused by negative mood. Future research priorities are outlined to better understand the motivational and task characteristics which influence this phenomenon.
- prospective memory
- Prospective memory