Roles of mastery-approach goal and performance-approach goal in retrieval-induced forgetting

Chia Chun Huang, Chao Jung Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined how the mastery-approach goal and performance-approach goal affect retrieval-induced forgetting. In a pilot study, 86 junior high school students with characteristics from the Chinese Big Seven personality dimensions were selected based on their knowledge of the poets Wang Wei and Du Mu. The purpose of this pilot study was to verify that the aforementioned characteristics did not represent the prior images of the poets held by the students, and to ensure that the characteristics enabled the students to construct distinctive overall impressions of the poets. In this formal study, we manipulated the achievement goals using task instructions followed by a typical retrieval–practice paradigm to assess retrieval-induced forgetting. Our experimental manipulation failed; therefore, we could not verify the effects of the achievement goals on the students’ memories. To explore the relationships between various achievement goals and retrieval-induced forgetting, we divided 262 participants into four groups based on their degree of achievement goal self-verification. The results showed that 182 participants belonged to the high-mastery/high-performance group, 21 belonged to high-mastery/low-performance group, 14 belonged to the low-mastery/high-performance group, and 35 belonged to the low-mastery/highperformance group. In addition, the results indicated that retrieval-induced forgetting was eliminated in the high-mastery/high-performance and high-mastery/low-performance groups but not in the other two groups. These results also showed that the elimination of retrieval-induced forgetting was related to the mastery goal rather than the performance goal; therefore, the four groups were combined into high- and low-mastery groups, and subsequently we compared memory strategies, academic achievement, and self-evaluation seriousness in the two groups. We discussed the factors influencing retrieval-induced forgetting as indicated in the literature and collected data, and formulated concrete proposals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-178
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Research in Education Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Mastery-approach goals
  • Memory strategies
  • Performance-approach goals
  • Retrieval-induced forgetting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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