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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29773

Title: The Effect of Nonconscious Goals on Conscious Goal-based Preferences
Authors: Kim, Hae Joo
Advisor: Mitchell, Andrew
Department: Management
Keywords: nonconscious goals
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2011
Abstract: This dissertation examines whether a nonconscious goal can change preferences between binary options, one favoring a conscious goal (e.g., undiluted but non-healthy iced tea) and the other a nonconscious goal (e.g., diluted but healthy iced tea). Across four laboratory experiments, we demonstrate that when participants are only given a conscious goal (e.g., to choose the tastier drink), the majority of them seek the alternative that is more instrumental to this goal. However, when a nonconscious goal is also primed (e.g., to be healthy), their preferences can shift to the alternative that is perceived to be instrumental to this goal but is inferior from the conscious goal standpoint. We propose a two-stage model to explain these findings. In the first stage, when a nonconscious goal is primed, individuals attend to goal-relevant cues (e.g., health-signaling label) and automatically form a positive evaluation toward the option that facilitates the nonconscious goal relative to the option that does not satisfy the goal. In the second stage, the positive automatic evaluation is then used to distort perceptions of the option’s conscious goal instrumentality such that the option is perceived as having a more favorable taste compared to when the goal is not primed. While the positive automatic evaluation influences the option’s taste, it does not affect the evaluation of the option’s other attributes (e.g., scent, color). By manipulating the timing of nonconscious goal activation and by adopting an evaluative conditioning task, we find support for our conceptual model while ruling out alternative explanations and identifying a boundary condition of task difficulty. The findings of the experiments contribute to the literature on nonconscious goals 1) by showing that these goals can play a central role in decision making when choice options pit them against conscious goals, and 2) by identifying a mechanism (i.e., attribute distortion) that can resolve goal competition in choice.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29773
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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