On the psychology of drinking: Being thirsty and perceptually ready

Henk Aarts*, Ap Dijksterhuis, Peter de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The present research is concerned with cognitive effects of habitually regulated primary motives. Specifically, two experiments tested the idea that feelings of thirst enhance the cognitive accessibility of, or readiness to perceive, action-relevant stimuli. In a task allegedly designed to assess mouth-detection skills, some participants were made to feel thirsty, whereas others were not. Results showed that participants who were made thirsty responded faster to drinking-related items in a lexical decision task, and performed better on an incidental recall task of drinking-related items, relative to no-thirst control participants. These results suggest that basic needs and motives, such as thirst, causes a heightened perceptual readiness to environmental cues that are instrumental in satisfying these needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-642
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


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