Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Martin Sliwinski


Cognitive interference, Daily diary, Daily memory failures, Everyday cognitive failures

Subject Categories



Assessing how well an individual can meet real world cognitive demands is an important clinical outcome, particularly for older adults. Research examining real world cognitive functioning has used both lab-based tasks as well as questionnaires. However, these assessments were limited for a number of reasons. Lab-based tasks lack personal relevance which may affect the strategies and amount of effort individuals apply, reducing their ecological validity. Questionnaires are considered more ecologically valid but require individuals to recall cognitive failures over weeks and months depending on an individual's fallible cognitive ability to remember their mistakes over long periods of time. More recent research has attempted to develop methods for the daily reporting of cognitive failures but focus primarily on memory failures and ignore more general types of cognitive failures. These daily diary studies also failed to assess the impact of cognitive failures on daily functioning. The current study built on this previous research and introduced a set of assessment tools designed to capture missed activities, memory failures, and difficulties with attention and concentration that individuals experience on a daily basis as well as the impact of these events on daily functioning. One hundred thirty-one participants, 20 to 80 years old completed these assessments once each day for a period of seven days as well as a series of lab-based cognitive tasks. These data revealed that participants reported missing the most activities due to overload (e.g., running out of time) but found missing activities due to somatic complaints as the most bothersome. With regard to daily memory failures, participants reported equal numbers of retrospective and prospective memory failures but reported expecting more future consequences from prospective memory failures. Older participants reported experiencing more missed activities and memory failures but rated these events as less bothersome, less interfering, and as less likely to bring about future consequences compared with younger adults. Daily failures of attention and concentration were captured using a Likert-style scale that assesses cognitive interference. This questionnaire exhibited adequate reliability and factor structure both between- and within-persons and tapped a construct separable from negative affect. Finally, there was evidence of weak relationships among self-reported cognitive failures and objective cognitive performance. Findings are discussed relative to previous research on self-reported cognitive failures, the importance of assessing other daily processes and their effects on daily cognitive failures, and the continued lack of relationship between self-reported cognitive failures and objective cognitive performance.


Open Access

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Psychology Commons