Beyond priming effects: The role of positive affect and discrepancies in implicit processes of motivation and goal pursuit

Ruud Custers, Henk Aarts
2005 European Review of Social Psychology  
Recent research demonstrates that goal pursuit can be instigated without conscious interventions when the mental accessibility of goal representations is enhanced by environmental cues. However, the mechanisms producing this non-conscious, motivational, goal-directed activity are not clearly addressed in the literature. In this chapter we present a framework within which the nonconscious activation of goal-directed behaviour can be understood. The framework departs from the idea that a goal is
more » ... dea that a goal is represented as a desired state and identifies three characteristics of this representation that render nonconscious goal pursuit more likely to occur: its mental accessibility, the discrepancy of the represented state with the actual state, and its association with positive affect. We present findings, largely established in our own labs, that demonstrate the crucial role of these three factors. We will close the chapter by showing how the framework can help to address some of the pressing issues in the research on non-conscious goal pursuit. Modern views on human behaviour assume that people's goal pursuits are governed by consciousness. Surely, we all tend to agree that goal setting is characterised by a conscious reflection process, and that goal adoption and enactment are associated with conscious intent. This unshakeable belief in consciousness as the guiding force behind human behaviour can be seen as a reaction to the traditional views of behaviourism, which dismissed mental processes as mediating causes of behaviour. Consequently, modern research on goal-directed, motivational behaviour focuses on people's explicit experiences and thoughts that accompany their goal pursuits. Perhaps in
doi:10.1080/10463280500435919 fatcat:53cwzodprjcjrdazrt6l2roi7m