Motivating consumer behavior by subliminal conditioning in the absence of basic needs: Striking even while the iron is cold

Martijn Veltkamp, Ruud Custers, Henk Aarts

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Previous research suggests that priming of behavioral concepts (e.g., drinking water) motivates consumers outside conscious awareness, but only if primes match a current need (e.g., fluid deprivation). The present article reports two studies testing whether subliminal conditioning (subliminally priming a behavioral concept and linking it to positive affect) can motivate such need-related behaviors even in the absence of deprivation. Both studies showed an interaction effect: Motivation to drink water increased with fluid deprivation, and subliminally conditioning drinking water more positive only motivated drinking in the absence of deprivation. Furthermore, Study 2 suggests that motivation resulting from conditioning is more specific than following deprivation, as only the latter can be reduced by pursuing alternative behaviors (i.e., eating high-liquid foods). Thus, although traditionally the motivation for need-related behaviors is thought to depend on deprivation, this research shows subliminal conditioning can motivate consumers as if they were deprived.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-56
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of consumer psychology
    Volume21
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Keywords

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