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Emotions in the laboratory. task-induced achievement emotions and their link with visual working memory performance
Emotions in the laboratory. task-induced achievement emotions and their link with visual working memory performance
The ability to temporarily hold information in visual working memory (VWM) is an important cognitive function as it is not only crucial in everyday life but also in other domains, such as educational settings and academic performance (Alloway & Alloway, 2010; Conway et al., 2003; Epelboim & Suppes, 2001; Fukuda et al., 2010). Even though VWM has been shown to be a stable construct in general, it can be influenced by other factors. For instance, previous research has demonstrated that emotional states or emotional stimuli can influence VWM performance (e.g. Spachtholz et al., 2014; Xie & Zhang, 2016). However, up to date there is a striking lack of research on whether a VWM task, which is used to measure VWM, may induce emotional experiences itself, and whether they in turn affect VWM performance. Some authors have speculated that a standard VWM task arouses emotions in participants and that these task-induced emotions are related to VWM performance (Luck, 2014; Rouder et al., 2008). The aim of the present thesis was therefore to establish if and how emotions, should they occur because of the VWM task itself, are linked with individuals’ VWM performance. To meet this objective an interdisciplinary approach was taken and well-established findings from educational psychology were applied to a core cognitive research question, namely that of VWM. In a first qualitative study (N=19), by adapting a qualitative method of inquiry, the think-aloud technique (van Someren et al., 1995), results revealed that the task induced different positive and negative emotions, such as joy and anger, which varied on the inter-individual as well as on the intra-individual level. The emotional experiences seemed to be tied to the implicit achievement requirement of the VWM task (getting it right vs. wrong; Elliot et al., 2017). To investigate whether these task-induced emotions were linked to VWM performance, two quantitative studies (N = 45, and N = 41, respectively) were carried out. Here, findings revealed that VWM performance was positively linked to joy, and negatively linked to anger, frustration and boredom on the inter-individual and intra-individual level. Notably, these emotions were also affected by an experimental manipulation of task difficulty (set size 4 vs. 8). This research is the first to demonstrate that a task designed to measure VWM in itself triggers emotions, specifically achievement emotions (e.g. Pekrun, 2006), which, in turn, are linked with VWM performance. The findings from the studies highlight the relevance of achievement emotions as potentially confounding variables for interpreting VWM scores as resulting from typical laboratory-based paradigms for measuring VWM capacity. Given the relevance of these findings for research on VWM, cognitive research in general and other fields of research in which VWM plays a role, for example academic performance, another aim of the present thesis was to consider further factors, such as achievement goal orientation, which may affect the link between task-induced achievement emotions during a VWM task, and VWM performance. Therefore, a registered report was designed which aims to replicate and further explore the findings from Studies 1 through 3 on the one hand and on the other hand consider the role of further variables in the achievement-emotion-VWM-relationship. Specifically, it is hypothesized (1) that task-induced achievement emotions will correlate with VWM performance and that this link is (2) mediated by subjective task performance (i.e. how well or poorly participants think they are doing on the VWM task). Further, as goal orientation is thought to be strongly related to achievement emotions (Pekrun et al., 2006), it is hypothesized (3) that the emotion-performance links are moderated by performance goal orientation. Finally, it is hypothesized (4) that achievement emotions, performance goal orientation, and task difficulty interact in predicting VWM. N = 225 participants will be recruited to perform the continuous color-report task. Participants’ achievement emotions and subjective task performance will be obtained by self-report after the VWM task. It is expected that the findings from the registered report will further highlight the relevance of achievement emotions as a potentially confounding variable for interpreting an individual’s VWM ability.
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Laybourn, Sara
2021
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Laybourn, Sara (2021): Emotions in the laboratory: task-induced achievement emotions and their link with visual working memory performance. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
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Abstract

The ability to temporarily hold information in visual working memory (VWM) is an important cognitive function as it is not only crucial in everyday life but also in other domains, such as educational settings and academic performance (Alloway & Alloway, 2010; Conway et al., 2003; Epelboim & Suppes, 2001; Fukuda et al., 2010). Even though VWM has been shown to be a stable construct in general, it can be influenced by other factors. For instance, previous research has demonstrated that emotional states or emotional stimuli can influence VWM performance (e.g. Spachtholz et al., 2014; Xie & Zhang, 2016). However, up to date there is a striking lack of research on whether a VWM task, which is used to measure VWM, may induce emotional experiences itself, and whether they in turn affect VWM performance. Some authors have speculated that a standard VWM task arouses emotions in participants and that these task-induced emotions are related to VWM performance (Luck, 2014; Rouder et al., 2008). The aim of the present thesis was therefore to establish if and how emotions, should they occur because of the VWM task itself, are linked with individuals’ VWM performance. To meet this objective an interdisciplinary approach was taken and well-established findings from educational psychology were applied to a core cognitive research question, namely that of VWM. In a first qualitative study (N=19), by adapting a qualitative method of inquiry, the think-aloud technique (van Someren et al., 1995), results revealed that the task induced different positive and negative emotions, such as joy and anger, which varied on the inter-individual as well as on the intra-individual level. The emotional experiences seemed to be tied to the implicit achievement requirement of the VWM task (getting it right vs. wrong; Elliot et al., 2017). To investigate whether these task-induced emotions were linked to VWM performance, two quantitative studies (N = 45, and N = 41, respectively) were carried out. Here, findings revealed that VWM performance was positively linked to joy, and negatively linked to anger, frustration and boredom on the inter-individual and intra-individual level. Notably, these emotions were also affected by an experimental manipulation of task difficulty (set size 4 vs. 8). This research is the first to demonstrate that a task designed to measure VWM in itself triggers emotions, specifically achievement emotions (e.g. Pekrun, 2006), which, in turn, are linked with VWM performance. The findings from the studies highlight the relevance of achievement emotions as potentially confounding variables for interpreting VWM scores as resulting from typical laboratory-based paradigms for measuring VWM capacity. Given the relevance of these findings for research on VWM, cognitive research in general and other fields of research in which VWM plays a role, for example academic performance, another aim of the present thesis was to consider further factors, such as achievement goal orientation, which may affect the link between task-induced achievement emotions during a VWM task, and VWM performance. Therefore, a registered report was designed which aims to replicate and further explore the findings from Studies 1 through 3 on the one hand and on the other hand consider the role of further variables in the achievement-emotion-VWM-relationship. Specifically, it is hypothesized (1) that task-induced achievement emotions will correlate with VWM performance and that this link is (2) mediated by subjective task performance (i.e. how well or poorly participants think they are doing on the VWM task). Further, as goal orientation is thought to be strongly related to achievement emotions (Pekrun et al., 2006), it is hypothesized (3) that the emotion-performance links are moderated by performance goal orientation. Finally, it is hypothesized (4) that achievement emotions, performance goal orientation, and task difficulty interact in predicting VWM. N = 225 participants will be recruited to perform the continuous color-report task. Participants’ achievement emotions and subjective task performance will be obtained by self-report after the VWM task. It is expected that the findings from the registered report will further highlight the relevance of achievement emotions as a potentially confounding variable for interpreting an individual’s VWM ability.