Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology and Social Science


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Supervisor

Professor Craig Speelman

Second Supervisor

Dr Elizabeth Kaczmarek


Whilst a substantial amount of research has investigated the role of affective distress and features of personality in memory complaints made by older adults, little effort has been directed towards understanding their distinct contributions to complaints. Given considerable overlap between affective distress and features of personality, such evidence is necessary to inform theoretical frameworks pertaining to memory complaints and clarify results from other empirical studies examining these concepts. Consequently, the current study examined symptoms of depression and anxiety as predictors of memory complaints within the context of features of personality and other relevant contextual variables (i.e., age, gender, education, premorbid intellectual functioning and memory performance) utilizing a correlational design. Study participants included 177 (115 females, 62 males) community-dwelling older adults between 65 and 90 years of age. The results of the study unanimously suggested that affective distress (i.e., depressive and anxiety symptomatology) was not associated with memory complaints beyond pertinent features of personality and other relevant contextual variables. This finding was consistent regardless of how memory complaints were assessed (i.e., General Frequency of Forgetting scores or via a global, dichotomous measure) or how affective distress was conceptualized (i.e., overall or specific features of depression and anxiety). The results suggest changes to several theoretical frameworks in the memory complaint literature are necessary, if the results can be replicated with different variable measures. From a clinical perspective, the results of the current study suggest older adults complaining of memory difficulties may exhibit an ongoing risk of symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition, the results also help to clarify why cognitively-healthy older adults who complain of memory problems exhibit an increased risk of subsequent dementia.