Perception in the service of goal pursuit: Motivation to attain goals enhances the perceived size of goal instrumental objects.

M. Veltkamp, H. Aarts, R. Custers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    83 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Two experiments tested the functional perception hypothesis (Bruner, 1957) according to which objects that are instrumental in attaining ones' goals are perceived to be bigger if one is motivated to attain these goals. Study 1 demonstrated that participants perceived a glass of water to be bigger when deprived of fluid, and that this effect mainly occurred when the goal-concept of drinking was rendered accessible. In Study 2 the motivation to engage in initially neutral action goals (e.g., gardening) was increased by unobtrusively pairing their mental representation with positively valenced stimuli, which resulted in enhanced size perception of instrumental tools (e.g., shovel). Together, these findings support and extend the functional perception hypothesis by demonstrating that this effect results from a top-down process that depends on cognitive accessibility of the goal-representation, while ruling out several alternative explanations. Implications for research on motivated perception and parallels with other research areas are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)720-736
    Number of pages17
    JournalSocial cognition
    Volume26
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Keywords

    • METIS-253279

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