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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Aug;89(2):129-42.

Positive affect as implicit motivator: on the nonconscious operation of behavioral goals.

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Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Recent research has revealed that nonconscious activation of desired behavioral states--or behavioral goals--promotes motivational activity to accomplish these states. Six studies demonstrate that this nonconscious operation of behavioral goals emerges if mental representations of specific behavioral states are associated with positive affect. In an evaluative-conditioning paradigm, unobtrusive linking of behavioral states to positive, as compared with neutral or negative, affect increased participants' wanting to accomplish these states. Furthermore, participants worked harder on tasks that were instrumental in attaining behavioral states when these states were implicitly linked to positive affect, thereby mimicking the effects on motivational behavior of preexisting individual wanting and explicit goal instructions to attain the states. Together, these results suggest that positive affect plays a key role in nonconscious goal pursuit. Implications for behavior-priming research are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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