Persisting Activation in Memory

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Representation of Intentions: Persisting Activation in Memory






Representation of intentions: Persisting Activation in Memory


In “Representation of intentions: Persisting Activation in Memory,” Goschke & Kuhl conduct four experiments with an intention, to investigate how intentions are represented in the memory. The subjects were required to memorize two texts about simple activities and were to do one of the activities later. After an intervened recognition test, it was found that words from the text participants were supposed to execute were memorized faster than words from the other texts. This remained the same even after participants were banned from rehearsing the text they would execute later and after they were informed of a test for recall of both texts. The research found that the intention representing what one intends to do later is memorized in the long-term.


            Ni many instances, people have top postpone some of their intentions until when it is appropriate to execute them. Goschke & Kuhl (1993) cite that the details of these intentions are kept in the memory without consciousness or in the subconscious mind until the time for execution the intentions nears. At this time, the intention will be remembered in order to perform the action required. The article cites that a severe lack of research on intention memory exists and attempts to test certain hypothesis about representation of intentions within the memory. One of the purposes of the study is finding out whether actions that are intended are stored differently from other issues that do not require to be done. The theses that this study sought to focus its experiments were intended memory has more levels of persistency. The second hypothesis was about how the intended memory was remembered, whether through a selected memory strategy of intrinsically (Goschke & Kuhl, 1993). The final hypothesis seeks to find out the effect of state of the person in activating of the intention memory.


            In the first experiment, subjects were issued with four tasks that were not related to each other. Each participant was tested individually in the beginning of the sessions. Further, they were informed that they would be required to learn about some activities written in two pair words. Their recall for the small tests would be tested in a recognition test. After the experiments, the results were gathered, which indicated that execution scripts took less time to respond to as opposed to the other neutral texts.

In the second experiment, the aim was a repeat of the first experiment using different texts, with a different text as the action to be done later. However, within this experiment, the texts used were related unlike in the first experiment where they completely differed. Rather, they were closely related, making it hard to distinguish between the texts to be executed and the neutral texts. This was in an attempt to find out whether the intended texts will be distinguished despite the words being closely related (Goschke & Kuhl, 1993). The results showed that all subjects were able to remember the intended text without making errors. Thus, experiment 2 results closely matched those of experiment 1.

In the third experiment, the aim is to find out whether this goes for a long term, by allowing more time to lapse after the subjects learn the texts of action. In the first two experiments, the time between when the subjects learn the texts and when they were required to execute it was around one and a half to two minutes. In this experiment, the time was extended to 15 minutes. There were eight sets of scripts to be learned, and more word pairs were used for distraction. The results were no different as all the subjects were able to identify the script to be executed. The subjects recalled the intended script a few seconds before 15 minutes were over, while the others were recalled later (Goschke & Kuhl, 1993).

In experiment 4, which is the final one, the article reckons that the results in the first three experiments may have caused different expectations of the test. This was caused by the fact the participants were aware their memories were under test, and this could have influenced their response than it would be in a free recalling (Goschke & Kuhl, 1993). To address this issue, the fourth experiment was a post question experiment with the subjects. In this experiment the participants were asked to rate their recall within a scale of seven points. This experiment also made use of questions in experiment one, but modified, and the procedure followed experiments one and two, only that this time they would have to do one of the tasks chosen. The results did not differ from the rest, and the participants were able to identify the text executed.
















Goschke, T., & Kuhl, J. (1993). Representation of Intentions: Persisting Activation in Memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 19 (5):1211-1226.

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