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Studies have shown that having an incomplete intention affects our ongoing tasks.
The literature discusses an intention interference effect that occurs upon
encountering an intention-related, or prospective memory (PM) cue; ongoing task
efficiency is slowed as a result of recognizing a PM cue. 60 undergraduates
completed a Flanker Task, received one of 3 types of instructions, then completed
another block of Flanker Task trials. Flanker Task RTs were measured to assess the
impact of the intention interference effect on the ongoing Flanker Task. We
hypothesized that the intention interference effect would also be present at the level
of perception. That is, participants would have greater perception of PM cues than
other cues and this would have costs on their ongoing tasks. We also hypothesized
that participants would experience an intention-interference effect even when
confronting PM cues in unexpected contexts. Our results corroborated the first
hypothesis; RTs on the Flanker Task were slowed as a result of noticing PM cues.
However, our results did not support the second hypothesis and we did not see an
interference effect caused by encountering unexpected PM cues. Our findings
demonstrate the human cognitive flexibility to turn on and off attention toward
peripheral cues depending on its relevance to our goal completion.