Article

Forgetting of Intentions in Demanding Situations is Rapid

Department of Psychology, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613, USA.
Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied (Impact Factor: 1.75). 09/2003; 9(3):147-62. DOI: 10.1037/1076-898X.9.3.147
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Demanding work settings often require the deferral of intended actions. In 3 experiments, participants were to withhold a response until they encountered a task change (which occurred 5, 15, or 40 sec later). To approximate highly demanding settings, the experimenters sometimes divided attention during the delay period. During some of the delays the experimenters interrupted the participants with an additional task (Experiment 1). Demanding conditions as well as interruptions revealed rapid forgetting of intentions at levels that would be considered significant in applied settings. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that this rapid forgetting was not reduced by strategic rehearsal and implementation intention strategies. The results suggest that maintaining intentions over brief delays is not a trivial task for the human cognitive system.

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    • "ete incidences of behaviour . We cannot therefore investigate the extent to which each of these instances was habitual or reasoned ( e . g . Sniehotta 2009 ) . The intention measure also assessed a global intention towards behaviour over the coming two weeks , but intentions can fluctuate over time and may not be remembered at the time of action ( Einstein et al . 2003 ) . These reflect crucial limitations of the data collection and analysis methods that dominate the habit field ( Gardner 2015a ) ; the effect of habits and intentions on the action of an individual on discrete occasions cannot be reliably estimated based on data aggregated across individuals and instances ( e . g . Jaccard 2012 ) . It "
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    • "Dodhia and Dismukes argue that these failures may be due to new attentional demands that prevent encoding a sort of restore point for the interrupted task or because we do not pause for a moment to check the status of the interrupted task. Previous research on delayed-execute prospective memory and interruptions has examined performance under conditions that return participants to the interrupted task (Einstein et al., 2003). Such an experimental task, however, might reflect a best-case scenario associated with interruptions at the cost of ecological validity. "
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    • "However, in Experiment 2, which used an animal word intention, cue items could quickly be dismissed as not meeting the criteria for PM execution. The current results, taken together with the findings of Einstein et al. (2003) and McDaniel et al. (2004) that showed rapid forgetting in delayed execution tasks, suggest that retrieval of intentions prior to when the intention can be executed is only beneficial when the intention can be actively maintained in working memory. "
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