Distinction Between Time Based and Event Based Prospective Memory

Discuss the Distinction Between Event-Based and Time-Based Prospective Memory

In the past week it is almost certain that most people will have forgotten to carry out an intended action, whether it was to make an appointment at the dentist, return a call to a friend or buy some milk on the way home from work. Remembering an intention is known as prospective memory (Harris & Wilkins 1982) and studies such as Terry (1998) have shown that 50-80% of all everyday memory problems are in some way related to prospective memory. Developing a greater understanding of prospective memory is therefore crucial as problems in this area can have a seriously debilitating impact on a person’s life.

Einstein and McDaniel (1990) proposed a distinction between event-based prospective memory (remembering to perform an action when an external event/cue occurs e.g. walking past a post box reminds us to post our friend’s birthday card) and time-based prospective memory (remembering to perform an action at a certain time or after a certain period of time has elapsed e.g. remembering to call a friend at 7pm as promised) however, Hicks, Marsh, and Cook (2005) suggest that there is not enough empirical evidence to distinguish sub types of prospective memory and Graf & Uttl (2001) claim they have not gained widespread acceptance in prospective memory literature.

This essay will discuss the distinction between event-based and time-based prospective memory, drawing evidence from biopsychology and studies into aging and disease. It will show that although there is evidence to demonstrate differences between the two types of prospective memory, research results are very mixed and are yet to provide evidence of a clear distinction. It will also discuss limitations with the current experimental paradigms and suggest possible methods of researching in the future which may evidence a clearer distinction between the two types of prospective memory.

The distinction between time-based and...