Going Beyond the Motivation Given: Self-Control and Situational Control Over Behavior

Yaacov Trope, Ayelet Fishbach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Inspired by Kurt Lewin's (1935) field theory, social psychologists have sought to demonstrate that a wide range of human behavior, socially desirable as well as undesirable, is under the control of immediate situational forces. Indeed, the field of social psychology has been defined as the study of situational determinants of thought, feeling, and action. Research on automaticity has provided a new impetus to the study of situational control over behavior. This research suggests that situational cues can govern behavior without being consciously processed and without making a deliberate choice of an appropriate course of action. Short-term motives, especially those that are automatically triggered by the immediate stimulus situation, may prevent people from pursuing their long-term goals. This chapter examines how people protect their long-termgoals against temporary, situationally elicited motives and proposes that when short-term motives threaten the attainment of long-term goals, people proactively employ counteractive self-control strategies-strategies that are designed to offset the influence of short-term motives on behavior. Evidence lends support for the goal-directedness assumption of counteractive control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe New Unconscious
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199847488
ISBN (Print)9780195307696
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012


  • Automaticity
  • Counteractive self-control
  • Goal-directedness
  • Human behavior
  • Longterm goals
  • Short-term motives
  • Situational cues
  • Social psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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