Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Age-related decline in intellectual abilities is domain-specific; that is, whether older adults show decreased intellectual performance depends on the type of ability being assessed (Foster & Taylor, 1920; Horn & Cattell, 1967; Kaufman, Reynolds & McLean, 1989; Sattler, 1982). Specifically, verbal abilities tend to decrease with older age (Botwinick, 1977; Cornelius, 1984; Horn & Cattell, 1967; Lachman & Jelalian, 1984). This prevalent finding has been labeled the "classic aging pattern" (Botwinick, 1977). Beyond mere descriptions, however, researchers have begun addressing explanatory mechanisms that underlie age patterns of intellectual decline, maintenance, and growth. What factors might mediate age-related decline on certain types of cognitive tasks? The purpose of the present study was to examine task-specific intellectual self-efficacy as a mediator of age-related patterns of intellectual performance. This study sought to: 1) replicate the differential age differences on verbal, reasoning, and spatial task performance; 2) assess whether older adults are aware of differential intellectual decline; and 3) examine the influence of intellectual self-efficacy on the relationship between age and intellectual performance.