Goal priming and the affective-motivational route to nonconscious goal pursuit.

H. Aarts, R. Custers, M. Veltkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Recent work has discovered that human goal pursuit can emerge in the absence of conscious awareness. Whereas the evidence of these goal priming effects is mounting, it remains a mystery how the mental apparatus informs people to pursue a primed goal in the absence of conscious will. This paper addresses this issue by proposing an affective-motivational route to non-conscious goal pursuit. Specifically, it is suggested that positive affect associated or coactivated with the cognitive representation of a goal triggers the motivation to pursue the given goal, while negative affect ceases it to the extent that the goal is already positive and thus carries potential motivation to pursue the goal when being primed. The paper discusses recent findings speaking to this conceptualization of nonconscious goal pursuit and presents two new experiments that examined the role of positive affect in rendering people ready for goal pursuit by testing effects on functional size perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-577
Number of pages23
JournalSocial cognition
Issue numberSpecial Issue: Cognitive Motivation and Motivated Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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