Consciousness and the unconscious in self-regulation: The effects of conscious compilation on goal priming

Oikawa, M.; Oikawa, H.

The Japanese journal of psychology 81(5): 485-491


DOI: 10.4992/jjpsy.81.485
Accession: 068501838

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The present study explores the division of labor for consciousness and the unconscious by examining the effect that the conscious mental compilation of implementation intentions has on unconscious goal priming. Temptations (e.g., leisure activities) that compete with goals (e.g., to study) inhibit relevant goal pursuit. However, forming an implementation intention to pursue a goal without succumbing to temptations may set off automatic self-regulation based on renewed associations where activation of temptation triggers goal pursuit. An experiment with undergraduates (N=143) revealed that in the "no conscious compilation" control condition, goal priming facilitated and temptation priming inhibited subsequent task performance. However, in the "conscious compilation" condition, temptation priming facilitated subsequent task performance equally as much as goal priming did. These results are consistent with the notion that automatic goal pursuit in the direction counter to existing mental associations could be achieved following conscious compilation of implementation intentions. Implications of these findings for effective coordination of consciousness and the unconscious in self-regulation are discussed.