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Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 560–570

First Online: 23 March 2016Received: 01 December 2015Accepted: 13 March 2016DOI: 10.1007-s00426-016-0768-z

Cite this article as: Stoeckart, P.F., Strick, M., Bijleveld, E. et al. Psychological Research 2017 81: 560. doi:10.1007-s00426-016-0768-z


Previous research has indicated that implicit motives can reliably predict which behaviors people select or decide to perform. However, so far, the question of how these motives are able to predict this action selection process has received little attention. Based on ideomotor theory, we argue that implicit motives can predict action selection when an action has become associated with a motive-congruent disincentive through repeated experiences with the action-outcome relationship. This idea was investigated by examining whether the implicit need for power nPower would come to predict action selection i.e., choosing to press either of two buttons when these actions had repeatedly resulted in motive-congruent disincentives i.e., submissive or dominant faces. Both Studies 1 and 2 indicated that participants became more likely to select the action predictive of the motive-congruent outcome as their history with the action-outcome relationship increased. Study 2 indicated that this effect stemmed from both an approach towards incentives and an avoidance of disincentives. These results indicate that implicit motives particularly the power motive can predict action selection as a result of learning which actions yield motive-congruent disincentives. Our findings therefore offer a model of how implicit motives can come to predict which behaviors people select to perform.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1007-s00426-016-0768-z contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Autor: Peter F. Stoeckart - Madelijn Strick - Erik Bijleveld - Henk Aarts


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