ABSTRACT

As discussed in Villado et al. (Chapter 3 of this volume), the extant empirical skill retention (decay) research is characterized by relatively simple tasks coupled with relatively short nonuse intervals. As such, it is not too surprising to find a paucity of empirical research relating individual differences to the retention and transfer of skill after extended periods of nonuse on cognitively complex tasks. Although training interventions could certainly be used to mitigate skill decay and promote skill transfer after periods of nonuse (e.g., Schendel and Hagman, 1982), identifying individual difference variables that predict skilled performance after extensive periods of nonuse could also serve as another means by which performance problems associated with nonuse can be addressed. Specifically, the selection of personnel for positions in which extended periods of downtime are common could be based on individual differences found to be predictive of long-term skill retention and transfer. Similarly, at the end of a given training period, individuals who are more likely to need remedial or booster training before being called into action after an extended period of nonuse can be identified. Furthermore, given that

performance at the end of a specified acquisition period frequently does not reflect future performance in terms of skill retention and transfer (Schmidt and Bjork, 1992), it is imperative that the search for individual differences extend beyond assessments of skill at the conclusion of training. Consequently, research identifying the individual differences that are predictive of long-term skill retention transfer is worthwhile, especially research that involves or emulates real-world performance contexts such as those commonly associated with military reserve personnel and first responders.