Project Director

Shelton, Jill

Department Examiner

Clark, Amanda; Byers, Libby; Evans, Randy


Dept. of Psychology


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Within the field of prospective memory (memory related to future tasks), the repetition of an already completed task has recently been of great interest within the field. Referred to as a commission error, the cognitive mechanisms and specific risk factors that relate to this memory error have been the focus of research in this area of memory. For example, research suggests that a well-established behavioral strategy for improving prospective memory, termed implementation intentions, also elicits higher levels of commission errors, particularly for older adults (Bugg, Scullin, & McDaniel 2013). The impact of commission errors on everyday life can have extreme consequences, such as an individual accidentally taking an important medication twice. Currently, there lacks any method of reducing these memory errors. The purpose of this study was to test the potential efficacy of a reverse implementation intention (i.e., stating and imagining that one will no longer respond to a past prospective memory cue) to reduce the likelihood for the occurrence of commission errors in both younger and older adults. We utilized a novel eye-tracking paradigm that provided rich contextual cues in an effort to induce a high probability of commission errors. Although we did not observe a statistically significant benefit of reverse implementation intentions in reducing the likelihood of commission errors, at least in younger adults, individuals given this memory strategy were less likely to have commission errors relative to a group that was told to no longer perform a future task. Additionally, we used eye fixation patterns to assess strategic monitoring and evidence of spontaneous retrieval in relation to commission errors. The results suggest that the high incidence of commission errors observed in our study was due to spontaneous retrieval processes.


Funded by The University of Tennessee's Provost Student Research Award.

IRB Number



B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Learning, Psychology of; Prospective memory; Cognitive psychology


Commission errors; Prospective memory; Context; Young adults

Document Type



23 leaves




Under copyright.