The present research examines individual differences in intention initiation. State- compared to action-oriented persons show an intention superiority effect for the cognitive representation of intentions [Goschke, T., & Kuhl, J. (1993). Representation of intentions: Persisting activation in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19, 1211–1226], but at the same time have a paradoxical deficit in initiating and carrying them out under demanding conditions. The present two experiments focus on intention initiation. Experiment 1 used a modified event-based paradigm of prospective memory, precuing prospective actions with words varying in association to the target word. State-oriented participants had longer latencies in initiating uncued compared to precued actions under low-positive affect (high listlessness). In Experiment 2, we used a key-pressing task under high vs. low cognitive load (uncompleted vs. completed intention). State-oriented participants under high load had longer latencies when they chose by themselves which of two goals to pursue, compared to an External-Cue condition. Action-oriented participants showed efficient performance in each experiment. The intention-initiation deficit of state-oriented participants was related to higher levels of listlessness (first experiment) or to high load (second experiment) suggesting that motivational factors interact with volitional impairments. These results are interpreted in terms of Personality Systems Interaction theory (Kuhl, 2000).
Prospective memory: Theory and applications
Remembering what to do: Explicit and implicit memory for intentions.
Goschke, T., & Kuhl, J.
In this chapter, the authors summarize some results of a research program in which attempts were made to investigate memory for intentions under laboratory conditions. They develop a theoretical framework to integrate research on intention memory in a more general theory of action control. The focus is on three questions: whether memory representations of intentions are characterized by a special persistence, that is, by an increased or more sustained level of activation as compared to other memory contents; if intentions facilitate the subsequent processing of intention-related information even if the representation of the intention is not consciously recollected; and whether there are systematic individual differences that moderate the representation and activation of intentions in memory.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
The representation of intentions: Persisting activation in memory.
In 4 experiments the authors investigated dynamic properties of representations of intentions. After Ss had memorized 2 texts describing simple activities, they were instructed that they would have to later execute one of the scripts. On an intervening recognition test, words from the to-be-executed script produced faster latencies than did words from a 2nd to-be-memorized script. This intention-superiority effect was obtained even when (1) selective encoding and poststudy imagery or rehearsal of the to-be-executed script was prohibited and (2) Ss expected a final free-recall test for both scripts. In a control condition in which Ss had to observe someone else executing a script, latencies for words from the to-be-observed script did not differ from neutral words. In conclusion, representations of intentions show a heightened level of subthreshold activation in long-term memory that cannot be accounted for by the use of controlled strategies.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Motivational and volitional determinants of depression: The degenerated-intention hypothesis.
According to J. Kuhl's (1984, 1985, and unpublished manuscript) information-processing model of depression, the chronicity of depressive mood states is maintained by so-called degenerated (unfulfillable) intentions that claim working memory capacity is needed to enact new (fulfillable) intentions. In the present experiment, an attempt was made to induce a degenerated intention in 18 hospitalized depressive patients and in 3 nondepressed control groups consisting of 10 university students, 10 hospitalized male schizophrenics, and 7 hospitalized male alcoholics. Whether depressives have an increased tendency to maintain unrealistic intentions and reduced memory capacity following suggestion of an unrealistic goal was examined. Results indicate that the tendency to encode unrealistic instructions in an intentional format appeared to be associated with a personal history of depressive episodes. In accordance with the model, the experimental manipulation (involving a clean-up task and a memory-span assessment) produced short-term memory deficits in depressive Ss, while memory capacity was unaffected for nondepressed Ss.
The handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behaviour
Motivation and information processing: A new look at decision-making, dynamic conflict, and action control.
Relate motivational phenomena (e.g., choice, persistence, effort) and motivational constructs (e.g., value, expectancy, wish, intention) to several cognitive structures and mechanisms / discuss the interaction between three motivational processes and several cognitive processes the motivational processes relate to (1) deliberate choice among goals and action alternatives (decision making), (2) simultaneous changes in several competing motivational tendencies that are not necessarily mediated by conscious thought (dynamic change), and (3) the maintenance and enactment of intentions—that is, action tendencies the organism has committed itself to execute despite the press resulting from many alternative action tendencies (action control) show how a comprehensive motivational theory of human action can help integrate research findings regarding various cognitive functions that are usually studied separately (e.g., semantic memory, passive and active attention, consciousness, subconscious processing) discuss reasons for maintaining the distinction between motivational and cognitive processes despite the close interaction between these two types of processes.
Dissertation Abstracts International
The interaction of phasic alertness and pathway activation: Relationships to specific task preparation (Doctoral Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University).
Posner and Boies (1971) divided human attention into 3 different components: alertness, pathway activation (or encoding) and processing capacity. Based on the above authors'' work, Kraut (1976; Kraut & Smothergill, 1978) advanced a "two-factor" theory of stimulus familiarization, which suggested that the first 2 attentional components interact: repeated exposures to a stimulus will lower its alerting capability but simultaneously enhance its encoding. Six choice reaction time (RT) experiments were conducted using adult subjects and familiarized and novel visual stimuli as uninformative warning signals (WSs). These experiments failed to support the claim that repeated exposures to a stimulus lower its alerting properties. Experiments 7 and 8, in direct contrast to the predictions of the two-factor theory, showed that a familiar visual WS was more alerting than a completely novel one. This finding was interpreted as indicating that the more efficient encoding of the familiar WS allowed subjects to start task-specific preparatory adjustments earlier, thus indirectly improving performance. It was suggested that phasic alertness and pathway activation are related factors: the alerting efficiency of an uninformative WS in a RT task will partially depend upon how familiar this signal is. In the ninth and last experiment subjects were shown their own or another person's name as visual WSs for an unrelated choice RT task. Results showed that the person's own name tended to produce both faster RTs and more errors than the other control name. This speed-accuracy tradeoff indicated that the individual's own name was automatically alerting, in contrast to most visual stimuli. The relationship between alertness and pathway activation was explored by analyzing in detail the preparation process; in particular the factors that determine the optimal foreperiod for a given task. This foreperiod will vary inversely with automatic alertness and directly with time uncertainty about the occurrence of the imperative stimulus as well as with task complexity.
An Affiliation of TUFTS UNIVERSITY, School of Public Health and Community Medicine