The Role of Working Memory in Achievement Goal Pursuit

Avery, Rachel. 2012. The Role of Working Memory in Achievement Goal Pursuit. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In the achievement motivation literature (Elliot, 1999), motivational foci are thought to create different perceptual-cognitive frameworks which guide behaviour when in an achievement situation. The goals of mastery-approach (development of self-referential competence) and performance-approach (demonstration of normative competence) have been found to exert different effects on various outcomes. Relatively less research has examined the cognitive processes through which these effects might operate. The current thesis aims to contribute to the motivation-cognition interface by presenting a series of studies designed to examine the role of working memory in experimentally induced mastery-approach and performance-approach goal pursuit.

In study 1, a meta-analysis is presented with the objective of identifying an effective method of manipulating, and conducting manipulation checks of, achievement goals in the current thesis. Results confirm that study design features influence observed achievement goal effects. In study 2, a preliminary investigation of the impact of achievement goals on working memory, across load, was conducted. Under high load, performance-approach goal pursuit resulted in poorer working memory processing than mastery-approach goal pursuit or a no-goal control. In study 3 and 4, dual task methodology was used to measure the working memory resource requirements of achievement goal pursuit. Results show that when working memory is loaded, those pursuing mastery-approach goals experience larger performance decrements than those pursuing performance-approach goals.

Finally in study 5, it was predicted that if achievement goals differentially engage working memory this would reflect in differences in gross measures of performance and task strategies on a category-learning task. These predictions weren't supported. It was however found that trait goal orientation and self-reported state achievement goals shared distinct patterns of relations to category-learning according to the pattern of predictions outlined for their manipulated equivalents. It is concluded that mastery-approach goal pursuit relies on the availability of working memory more than performance-approach.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Achievement Goals, Working Memory, Mastery-Approach, Performance-Approach

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Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2012 15:34

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:33


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