Responding to subliminal cues: Do if-then plans facilitate action preparation and initiation without conscious intent?

Ute C. Bayer, Anja Achtziger, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gordon B. Moskowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Forming implementation intentions ("If I encounter cue X, then I will perform behavior Y!") is postulated to trigger action initiation without further conscious intent once the specified cue is encountered (Gollwitzer, 1999). In two experiments using an injustice paradigm or a categorization task, critical situations (specified in the if-component) were subliminally presented and it was tested whether these situations influenced the preparation (Study 1) and initiation (Study 2) of the planned goal-directed behavior (specified in the then-component). After the subliminal presentation of the critical situations, implementation intention participants showed stronger action preparation and a faster action initiation, as compared to control participants (Study 1) who had not formed any goal intention at all, and compared to participants (Studies 1 and 2) who had only formed goal intentions. These findings suggest that forming implementation intentions leads to automatic action initiation without further conscious intent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-201
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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