This chapter takes a primarily cognitive construct - memory self-efficacy (MSE) - and returns it to its roots - social cognition (Bandura, 1986). This is a natural and obvious move. MSE has evolved since the mid-1980s (Berry, West, & Powlishta, 1986; Hertzog, Dixon, Schulenberg, & Hultsch, 1987) to its present identity and status in the cognitive aging and adult developmental research literature. If it is to avoid becoming a hypothesis in search of data (Light, 1991) or worse, an epiphenomenon to more robust explanations of cognitive aging (e.g., speed) (Salthouse, 1993), its potential and limits must be scrutinized and subjected to rigorous new research agendas. Arguably, MSE has arrived at its present destination via metamemory (Dixon, Hertzog, & Hultsch, 1986; Hertzog, Dixon, & Hultsch, 1990a; Hertzog et al., 1987; Hultsch, Hertzog, Dixon, & Davidson, 1988), thereby acquiring a more cognitive emphasis than its clinical and social underpinnings suggest. This chapter presents MSE research from my lab that has been conducted from the orienting framework of self-efficacy theory and methodology (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997; Bandura, Adams, Hardy, & Howells, 1980; Bandura, Reese, & Adams, 1982). The value of this framework lies in its rich theoretical foundation, its unique measurement approach, and its ties to social cognition. The goal of the chapter is to evaluate the present status of MSE research and to suggest new research directions.

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Copyright © 1999 Academic Press. This chapter first appeared in Social Cognition and Aging.

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