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This study investigated the impact of individual differences in motivational reactivity on cognitive effort, memory strength (sensitivity) and decision making (criterion bias) in response to Internet ads with positive and negative content. Individual variation in trait motivational activation was measured using the Motivational Activation Measurement developed by A. Lang and her colleagues (A. Lang, Bradley, Sparks, & Lee, 2007). MAM indexes an individual’s tendency to approach pleasant stimuli (ASA, Appetitive System Activation) and avoid unpleasant stimuli (DSA, Defensive System Activation). Results showed that individuals higher in ASA exert more cognitive effort during positive ads than individuals lower in ASA. Individuals higher in DSA exert more cognitive effort during negative ads compared to individuals lower in DSA. ASA did not predict recognition memory. However, individuals higher in DSA recognized ads better than those lower in DSA. The criterion bias data revealed participants higher in ASA had more conservative decision criterion, compared to participants lower in ASA. Individuals higher in DSA also showed more conservative decision criterion compared to individuals lower in DSA. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.