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Unraveling Priming: When Does the Same Prime Activate a Goal versus a Trait?

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  • Aner Sela
  • Baba Shiv
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    Abstract

    Consumers are constantly exposed to subtle situational cues that can influence behavior by priming either goals or “mere” semantic representations such as personality traits. However, little is known about when exactly such priming leads to goal activation, which can have enduring behavioral effects, and when the same prime leads to semantic activation, characterized by short‐lived effects. This research proposes an activation‐striving model, which proposes that behavioral effects of primes are moderated by discrepancies between the prime and the self‐concept. Three studies suggest that self‐consistent primes are more likely to influence choice via semantic activation, whereas self‐discrepant primes are more likely to influence choice via goal activation.

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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/598612
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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/598612
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 418 - 433

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:doi:10.1086/598612

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Carlson, Kurt A. & Tanner, Robin J. & Meloy, Margaret G. & Russo, J. Edward, 2014. "Catching nonconscious goals in the act of decision making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 123(1), pages 65-76.

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