Planning ability is important in everyday functioning, and a key measure to assess the preparation and execution of plans is the Tower of London (ToL) task. Previous studies indicate that older adults are often less accurate than the young on the ToL and that there may be cultural differences in performance on the task. However, potential interactions between age and culture have not previously been explored. In the current study we examined the effects of age on ToL performance in an Asian culture (Malaysia) and a Western culture (British) (n = 191). We also explored whether working memory, age, education, and socioeconomic status explained variance in ToL performance across these two cultures. Results indicated that age effects on ToL performance were greater in the Malaysian sample. Subsequent moderated mediation analysis revealed differences between the two cultures (British vs Malaysians), in that the age-related variance in ToL accuracy was accounted for by WM capacity at low and medium education levels only in the Malaysian sample. Demographic variables could not explain additional variance in ToL speed or accuracy. These results may reflect cultural differences in the familiarity and cognitive load of carrying out complex planning tasks.
- working memory