Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Iris A Parham


The present investigation was designed to test the hypothesis that failure experienced by the individual in a testing situation is moderated by causal attributions and these attributions influence subsequent test measures. The effect of manipulating cause (lack of effort or Lack of ability) to response-independent failure and its relationship to scores on the Reasoning, Hidden Patterns, and Paper Folding Test, in younger an older person's was investigated. The same measures were assessed in a group that experienced the same response-independent-failure but with no explanation offered as to the cause for the failure, a group that was not given any information concerning the outcome, and a control group that did not experience the response-independent-failure.

Analysis of results indicated that younger subjects obtained significantly higher scores than one subjects on all three subtests. A significant age by condition effect in results from the Paper Folding Test was also found. The failure-ability group showed lower scores than the failure-effort group for both age categories. The two non manipulated-attribution groups were lower than the failure-effort group for the elderly, and were higher than the failure-ability group for younger subjects. The results supported the hypothesis that elderly individuals may demonstrate lower cognitive scores in part, due to influences that are extraneous to cognitive assessment. Implications of the results for elderly cognitive assessment were discussed.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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