Providing goal reminders eliminates the relationship between working memory capacity and Stroop errors

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


Previous research has shown that list-wide effects in the Stroop task interact with working memory capacity (WMC). The predominant explanation for this relationship is goal maintenance. However, some researchers have challenged whether list-wide effects truly reflect goal-maintenance abilities. In the current study, we examined whether goal maintenance explains higher WMC individuals’ better performance within mostly congruent (MC) Stroop lists by providing periodic goal reminders to some of the participants. Two hundred and twelve participants from Montana State University first completed the Automated Operation Span and were then assigned to either a true control, goal reminder, or nongoal reminder condition. During the Stroop task, the true control condition received rest breaks every 60 trials, whereas the goal reminder and nongoal reminder conditions stopped every 12 trials to vocalize either the task goal or a rehearsed statement, respectively. We regressed Stroop errors on reminder condition and WMC, comparing each group to the true control. For the Goal Reminder × True Control comparison, there was an interaction, such that WMC negatively correlated with Stroop errors in the true control, but not in the goal reminder condition. In contrast, for the Nongoal Reminder × True Control comparison, there was only an overall effect of WMC, with greater Stroop errors for those lower in WMC. These data provide evidence that goal reminders eliminate the relationship between WMC and Stroop interference.


This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:


cognitive control, stroop interference, goal neglect, working memory capacity


Hood, A.V.B., Hutchison, K.A. Providing goal reminders eliminates the relationship between working memory capacity and Stroop errors. Atten Percept Psychophys 83, 85–96 (2021).
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