Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In prospective memory (PM) research, a common finding is that people are generally slower to respond to a given ongoing task (OT) when they have to perform a PM task concurrently, as compared to performing the OT alone. Multiprocess theory claims that this slowing, termed task interference, is indicative of monitoring processes. Monitoring is thought to be cognitively demanding and heavily reliant on working memory, as people hold their intention in mind and look for features relevant to the PM task. PM decision control (PMDC) theory, instead, proposes that task interference reflects a strategic and intentional delay strategy. To address this theoretical dispute, in the present study we first develop and validate a within-block probe procedure that measures self-reported difficulty and motivation, in order to determine their relationship with task interference. Monitoring could involve motivational factorsѩn that some people may not care enough to monitorѢut clearly implicates difficulty as a fundamental correlate of task interference. By contrast, the PMDC model clearly excludes difficulty as having any association with task interference, but oneճ motivation to perform well on the PM task could potentially explain differences in task interference. After validating the probe procedure in the first experiment, we applied the methodology in two following experiments designed to manipulate task interference, with the central question being, “Is task interference (i. e. , change in behavior due to PM) associated with an increase in self-reported difficulty, or is it better tracked by self-reported motivation to perform the PM task?" In both experiments, we found that difficulty ratings Рnot motivation Рwas consistently related to task interference, supporting a multiprocess view.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Mark A. McDaniel

Committee Members

Julie M. Bugg, Michael J. Strube, Erin R. Foster, David A. Balota,