Take the field! Investigating prospective memory in naturalistic and real-life settings
This chapter discusses promises and pitfalls of investigating prospective memory outside the laboratory in daily-life settings. The chapter starts with the observation that although early prospective memory studies often employed more naturalistic tasks, in general, naturalistic approaches have been rarely used for studying prospective memory, especially since the introduction of a standardized laboratory paradigm in 1990. The authors argue in favor of a revival of naturalistic approaches to complement the currently dominant laboratory approach. The authors consider this a particularly important issue, because they are convinced that laboratory findings need to be reconnected to real-life settings in order to evaluate whether these findings are meaningful for the psychological construct of interest. To illustrate how such a reconnection may be achieved, the authors review existing naturalistic prospective memory tasks and studies, and highlight research methods used in other related areas of research on future-oriented cognition, that may be useful for the investigation of every-day prospective memories. Caveats and problems that come with any type of naturalistic research approach are also acknowledged.