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PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

The Unconscious Will: How the Pursuit of Goals Operates Outside of Conscious Awareness Seminar

16:00 - 17:00
15 March 2012
Rooms 3095, Level 3 Shackleton Building (Building 44) University of Southampton Highfield Campus Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Allyson Marchi on 02380 599645 or email .

Event details

Most contemporary theories on human behaviour assume that people’s goal pursuits originate in conscious intentions.

Recent research in social psychology, though, suggests that behavioural goals can be triggered and operate outside of awareness. In the current talk, I will present a model that aims to explain how this happens by integrating two unrelated lines of research. First, research on behaviour priming has demonstrated that activation of behaviour representations immediately leads to action preparation. Second, research on unconscious reward processing has revealed that reward information can be processed even when it is presented below the threshold of conscious awareness and influences the effort mobilized across various tasks. Novel findings in support of this model will be presented. Among others, this research suggest that although people’s behaviour is influenced by their surroundings outside of their conscious awareness, these unconscious effects on behaviour operate largely in line with people’s desires, as if they were guided by an unconscious will.

Speaker information

Dr Ruud Custers, University College London. Research Interests: Nonconscious processes in social cognition, motivation, and behaviour; Priming; Implicit learning; Agency experiences

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