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.
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|