Motivation and episodic memory performance

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Psykologi

Sammanfattning: In everyday life, motivation and learning are connected like music and dancing. Many educators realize this and work hard to improve their students' motivation. A motivated student may repeat and self-rehearse the content of a chapter more often, which leads to better learning. However, from a cognitive psychology point of view, it is still uncertain if motivation without differences in repetition or attention, affects episodic memory performance. That is, would a motivated student perform better compared to a less motivated peer if they both have same level of previous knowledge, attention and rehearsal? The number of studies in this field is scarce, and some studies are limited by methodological issues, and others indicate that motivation does not affect episodic memory performance. The overall aim of this thesis was to develop a motivational instruction that facilitates or affects memory performance, and to characterize the underlying mechanisms of this potential effect. Study I examined if reward competition would affect word and source recall as well as word recognition. Following the self-determination theory of motivation, Study I also included subjective ratings of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The results showed dissociation between experienced motivation and actual memory performance. Study II involved goal-setting and ego-involvement (stereotype threat) as motivators in the context of a word recall task. The results showed that goals and ego-involvement had no effect on performance. Study III manipulated competition motivation by a combination of group process (group vs. individual) and chance of winning (high vs. low) to in two experiments. The results suggested that both chance of winning and group process can affect episodic memory performance. Study IV extended these findings by showing a complex interaction among group process, chance of winning, and gender. Specifically, male participants were more subjected to group process and chance of winning than female participants in memory performance. Taken together, the present studies show that memory performance is relatively impervious to motivational influence, but that a combination of reward competition, group process and chance of winning can affect episodic recall performance. Presumably, the underlying mechanisms through which motivation affects episodic memory performance is that motivated participants generate more possible items to familiarize themselves with during memory retrieval than less motivated participants.