• Article

Aging and the questionable validity of recognition-based exposure measurement

Growing evidence suggests that basic exposure measures, such as recognition-based items, might not operate identically among older and younger adults. We present two studies relevant to this debate. Study 1 provides experimental confirmation of the recognition decline hypothesis, finding an interaction between age and exposure in predicting recognition memory for an advertisement related to global warming. Study 2 assesses television news project evaluation data to explore whether verbatim detail recognition difficulty explains Study 1 results. The two studies provide complementary evidence, not only illustrating recognition decline among the elderly but also providing careful control of exposure in Study 1 and the use of multiple messages, realistic viewing scenarios, and free recall data in Study 2. Taken together, the studies offer a cautionary tale for campaign evaluators. On a broader theoretical level, the results suggest a fruitful path for communication research focused on the nuanced and potentially critical moderating role of age.

Citation

Southwell, B., Gilkerson, N. D., Depue, J. B., Shelton, A. K., Friedenberg, L. M., & Koutstaal, W. (2010). Aging and the questionable validity of recognition-based exposure measurement. Communication Research, 37(5), 603-619. DOI: 10.1177/0093650209356442

DOI Links