Ability to form new associations between unrelated items is particularly sensitive to aging, but the reasons for such differential vulnerability are unclear. In this study, we examined the role of objective and subjective factors (working memory and beliefs about memory strategies) on differential relations of age with recognition of items and associations. Healthy adults (N = 100, age 21 to 79) ... [Show full abstract] studied word pairs, completed item and association recognition tests, and rated the effectiveness of shallow (e.g., repetition) and deep (e.g., imagery or sentence generation) encoding strategies. Advanced age was associated with reduced working memory (WM) capacity and poorer associative recognition. In addition, reduced WM capacity, beliefs in the utility of ineffective encoding strategies, and lack of endorsement of effective ones were independently associated with impaired associative memory. Thus, maladaptive beliefs about memory in conjunction with reduced cognitive resources account in part for differences in associative memory commonly attributed to aging. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).