Prospective Memory and Resource Depletion: The Effect of Target Cue Types

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American Journal of Psychology


Although theoretical accounts suggest prospective memory to be adversely affected when cognitive resources are subjected to depletion, previous research has not consistently supported this notion. It is possible that the inconsistencies are due in part to retrieval demands resulting from different target cue types. The primary aim of these studies was to determine resource depletion effects across different prospective memory target cue types that are hypothesized to involve varying levels of cognitive control. Given that recent theoretical accounts of how depletion effects involve consideration of motivational shifting, a secondary exploratory aim was to evaluate whether exposure to resource-depleting conditions would result in changes in intrinsic motivation. Both studies resulted in no convincing evidence that prospective memory performance after depletion exposure varied by target cue types. However, there was a small effect of depletion on 1 aspect of intrinsic motivation, perceived competency, in Study 1, but this effect was not replicated in Study 2. The results are in line with previous studies that have found no evidence that resource depletion affects prospective memory performance under controlled conditions but offer preliminary evidence that changes in motivation may be an important factor.



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executive control, intrinsic motivation, prospective memory, resource depletion, self-control