Motivation and cognitive abilities: An integrative/aptitude-treatment interaction approach to skill acquisition

Two central constructs of applied psychology, motivation and cognitive ability, were integrated within an information-processing framework. This theoretical framework simultaneously considers individual differences in cognitive abilities, self-regulatory processes of motivation, and information-processing demands. Evidence for the framework is provided in the context of skill acquisition, in which information-processing and ability demands change as a f function of practice, training paradigm, and timing of goal setting. Three field-based lab experiments were conducted with 1,010 U.S. Air Forces trainees. In Experiment 1 the basic ability-performance parameters of the air traffic controller task and goal-setting effects early in practice were evaluated. In Experiment 2 goal setting later in practice was examined. In Experiment 3 the simultaneous effects of training content, goal setting, and ability-performance interactions were investigated. Results support the theoretical framework and have implications for notions of ability-motivation interactions and design of training and motivation programs.