The present study examines the influence of achievement goal states on working memory under varying executive load. Seventy-six undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either a mastery-approach condition (goal was to develop self-referential competence), a performance-approach condition (goal was to demonstrate normative competence) or a control condition (no goal assigned) prior to completing the N-Back working memory task. Analyses revealed achievement goal effects on working memory under high executive load (3-back) but not under the less demanding loads (1-back, 2-back). Under high load, pursuit of a performance-approach goal resulted in poorer working memory processing than pursuit of a mastery-approach goal or no-goal control. Findings are unlikely to be confounded by cognitive ability, working memory capacity or state-anxiety. Contributions to the motivation–cognition interface and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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The first author would like to acknowledge financial support from Goldsmiths, University of London (Student Bursary). The second author would like to acknowledge financial support from the Australian Research Council (Project ID: DP0984782).
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Avery, R.E., Smillie, L.D. The impact of achievement goal states on working memory. Motiv Emot 37, 39–49 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-012-9287-4