Individual differences in working memory capacity predict benefits to memory from intention offloading

Hunter Ball, Phil Peper, Durna Alakbarova, Gene Brewer, Sam J. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Research suggests that individuals with lower working memory have difficulty remembering to fulfil delayed intentions. The current study examined whether the ability to offload intentions onto the environment mitigated these deficits. Participants (N = 268) completed three versions of a delayed intention task with and without the use of reminders, along with three measures of working memory capacity. Results showed that individuals with higher working memory fulfilled more intentions when having to rely on their own memory, but this difference was eliminated when offloading was permitted. Individuals with lower working memory chose to offload more often, suggesting that they were less willing to engage in effortful maintenance of internal representations when given the option. Working memory was not associated with metacognitive confidence or optimal offloading choices based on point value. These findings suggest offloading may help circumvent capacity limitations associated with maintaining and remembering delayed intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-91
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Prospective memory
  • individual differences
  • offloading
  • reminders
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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