On the paradoxical decrease of self-reported cognitive failures with age

JCF de Winter, D Dodou, PA Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The science of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF/E) often relies on self-report. This is a cause for concern because subjective methods are inherently susceptible to bias. Here, we present, examine and discuss a puzzling association between age and self-reported cognitive failures as assessed with Broadbent's Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ). Despite many well-established age-associated forms of cognitive decline, older persons actually report almost equivalent, or even less, cognitive failures on the CFQ than younger persons. Our present analysis indicates that this paradox may be resolved through the fact that people show age-related learning/adaptation/compensation and by the observation that the CFQ measures peoples' beliefs with respect to an individually idiosyncratic reference. Yet, at the heart of the paradox may be the idea that people cannot remember their own cognitive failures, pointing to even greater concerns with all forms of subjective self-report and its use in HF/E.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1471-1486
Number of pages16
JournalErgonomics: an international journal of research and practice in human factors and ergonomics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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