Longitudinal associations of subjective memory with memory performance and depressive symptoms: Between-person and within-person perspectives

Gizem Hülür, Christopher Hertzog, Ann Pearman, Nilam Ram, Denis Gerstorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Clinical diagnostic criteria for memory loss in adults typically assume that subjective memory ratings accurately reflect compromised memory functioning. Research has documented small positive between-person associations between subjective memory and memory performance in older adults. Less is known, however, about whether within-person fluctuations in subjective memory covary with within-person variance in memory performance and depressive symptoms. The present study applied multilevel models of change to 9 waves of data from 27,395 participants of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS; mean age at baseline = 63.78; SD = 10.30; 58% women) to examine whether subjective memory is associated with both between-person differences and within-person variability in memory performance and depressive symptoms and explored the moderating role of known correlates (age, gender, education, and functional limitations). Results revealed that across persons, level of subjective memory indeed covaried with level of memory performance and depressive symptoms, with small-to-moderate between-person standardized effect sizes (0.19 for memory performance and -0.21 for depressive symptoms). Within individuals, occasions when participants scored higher than usual on a test of episodic memory or reported fewer-than-average depressive symptoms generated above-average subjective memory. At the within-person level, subjective memory ratings became more sensitive to within-person alterations in memory performance over time and those suffering from functional limitations were more sensitive to withinperson alterations in memory performance and depressive symptoms. We take our results to suggest that within-person changes in subjective memory in part reflect monitoring flux in one's own memory functioning, but are also influenced by flux in depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-827
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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