Achievement Goals and Mental Arithmetic: The Role of Distributed Cognition
- Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo, School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
- Adrian Banks, School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
- Harriet Tenenbaum, School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
AbstractThe purpose of these studies was to investigate the role of distributed cognition in defusing the impact of evaluative pressure caused by performance-approach goals on mental arithmetic performance. Performance-approach goals can generate worrying thoughts that can deplete working memory resources. However, some of these working memory limitations can be compensated by off-loading the internal cognitive process to the external environment. We tested this prediction in two experiments. Participants carried out modular arithmetic tasks in a performance-approach goal or mastery-approach goal condition crossed with interactivity or no interactivity. Performance-approach goal manipulation hampered cognitive performance (accuracies), (Experiment 1). However, these negative effects were defused with the help of interactivity (Experiment 2). Interestingly, the mastery-focused individuals had a performance drop in the interactive condition (Experiment 1 and Experiment 2). Finally, experiment 2 reported higher maths anxiety levels for the performance-focused individuals. Reasons for the findings and future implications will be discussed.
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