Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Program

Cognitive Neuroscience

Advisor

Klara Marton

Subject Categories

Cognitive Neuroscience | Cognitive Psychology | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts

Keywords

Cognitive Control, Self-Esteem, Academic Achievement Motivation, Academic Motivation, Intrinsic Motivation, n-back

Abstract

Cognitive control describes a set of mechanisms that guide behavior towards a goal (Cohen, 2017). The successful execution of cognitive control is essential for effective learning, information processing, problem solving, and academic achievement (Visu-Petra et al., 2011). The Expected Value of Control framework (EVC; Shenhav et al., 2013) suggests that control carries an inherent cost, which is weighed against the potential benefits of expending it. This cost-benefit analysis determines the direction and intensity that a goal is pursued. Importantly, motivation plays a role in this cost-benefit analysis and may function as the factor that offsets the cost of control expenditure (Yee and Braver, 2018). Motivation itself is a complex concept and may be affected by additional factors, such as self-esteem. Like motivation, self-esteem has also been found to be strongly related to academic achievement and success (Ditzfeld & Showers, 2013). Thus, it is imperative to investigate these affective factors further to better understand the ways in which these factors lead to success and positive outcomes in students. The present study investigates the nature of the relationship of academic achievement motivation, global self-esteem, and state self-esteem with cognitive control using a task of working memory updating. Results indicated that academic achievement motivation and state self-esteem were positively correlated with reaction time. State self-esteem was also positively correlated with accuracy. Global self-esteem, however, demonstrated an alternative reaction time pattern such that there was a negative correlation with reaction time, but a positive relationship with accuracy. These findings may provide insight about the role of affective factors, such as self-esteem, in the orientation of cognitive control.

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