The Huron University College Journal of Learning and Motivation

Article Title

Priming Memories: Effects on Motivation and Confidence


Previous research has indicated that increasing self-esteem before an exam actually hinders ones performance (Forsyth et al., 2007). Furthermore, Woodman, Akehurst, Hardy & Beattie (2010) have indicated that when one’s self-confidence is decreased, on-task effort is increased. The purpose of the current study was to determine if priming an individual’s memory of an academic success or failure would alter ones confidence and motivation to complete a task. Specifically, it was assumed that individual’s who are primed of a past academic failure would have lower confidence going into a task, but show greater motivation in completing a task. Conversely, those who are primed of a past academic success will have high confidence going into a task but low motivation in completing the task. The task at hand was completing as many easy or hard anagrams as one liked. Thirty-two participants attending the University of Western Ontario and its affiliates participated in thestudy. When analyzing participants’ motivation, the findings although not significant, did indicate a trend in the predicted direction. Whereby, participants spent more time and completed more anagrams in the failure/hard condition than in the success/hard condition. However, the results indicated no significant difference in participants’ self-confidence ratings between primed conditions, thus refuting the original hypothesis that confidence would be lower when participants were asked to think of a past academic failure in comparison to when participants were asked to think of a past academic success. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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