Motivation-based selective encoding and retrieval

Vered Halamish, Pnina Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rememberers are often motivated to remember certain pieces of information more than they are motivated to remember other pieces. The literature suggests that this motivation results in selective remembering of valuable information and that it yields selective processing of this valuable information during encoding. However, the question of whether or not motivation to remember also elicits selective processing during retrieval is relatively underexplored. To fill this gap, two experiments examined the effect of incentive-based motivation to remember target information on selective encoding and retrieval processes using a paradigm that allowed participants to self-regulate their learning and cued-recall testing under relatively naturalistic settings. The results revealed that motivation yielded selective remembering of the target information and selective processing during encoding (i.e., selective allocation of study time, selective restudy, and selective control over study order), consistent with prior findings. Importantly, the results also revealed that motivation yielded selective processing during retrieval, as rememberers allocated more time to test queries about target information that they were motivated to remember and tended to start the test with these queries. These findings suggest that motivation affects how rememberers answer a cued-recall memory test. More generally, the current research demonstrates that by manipulating motivation and investigating self-regulated learning and remembering, research can advance our understanding of the intricate relationship between motivation, memory, and metacognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-750
Number of pages15
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.


  • Memory
  • Metacognition
  • Motivation
  • Retrieval
  • Selectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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