Takahashi, M., & W. F. Overton. (1996). Formal reasoning in Japanese older adults: The role of metacognitive strategy, task content, and social factors. Journal of Adult Development, 3 (2), 81-91.


The study investigates the availability of deductive reasoning competence in late adulthood. Forty six Japanese older (mean age=71) and 58 young adults (mean age=19.6) were assessed for formal or deductive reasoning using Overton's (1990) revision of the four card selection task. For older adults, it was found that metacognitive strategy--operating as a procedure designed to access reasoning competence--resulted in enhanced performance levels. When the semantic content of the reasoning task involved emotional issues, however, the metacognitive strategy failed to facilitate reasoning performance. These results suggest that reasoning competence is available in late adulthood but that performance is susceptible to contextual variables. Social factors were not found to be significantly related to older adults' reasoning performance. It was suggested that assessment of these factors may have been based on too broad a definition to adequately describe the status of the older Japanese adults. For the young, only semantic task content was related to reasoning performance.