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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2009 Oct;97(4):699-715. doi: 10.1037/a0016420.

Changing, priming, and acting on values: effects via motivational relations in a circular model.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.


Circular models of values and goals suggest that some motivational aims are consistent with each other, some oppose each other, and others are orthogonal to each other. The present experiments tested this idea explicitly by examining how value confrontation and priming methods influence values and value-consistent behaviors throughout the entire value system. Experiment 1 revealed that change in 1 set of social values causes motivationally compatible values to increase in importance, whereas motivationally incompatible values decrease in importance and orthogonal values remain the same. Experiment 2 found that priming security values reduced the better-than-average effect, but priming stimulation values increased it. Similarly, Experiments 3 and 4 found that priming security values increased cleanliness and decreased curiosity behaviors, whereas priming self-direction values decreased cleanliness and increased curiosity behaviors. Experiment 5 found that priming achievement values increased success at puzzle completion and decreased helpfulness to an experimenter, whereas priming with benevolence values decreased success and increased helpfulness. These results highlight the importance of circular models describing motivational interconnections between values and personal goals.

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