Nonconscious goal pursuit in novel environments: The case of implicit learning: Research article

Baruch Eitam*, Ran R. Hassin, Yaacov Schul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Is nonconscious goal pursuit useful in novel environments? The prevalent view of automaticity and control implies that an unconscious mode of goal pursuit can only reproduce formerly learned actions, and therefore that its usefulness in novel environments is very limited. Our results demonstrate that this conclusion is not always warranted, as nonconscious goal pursuit facilitated participants' learning of the structure of completely novel environments. Specifically, two experiments, using markedly different implicit-learning paradigms, demonstrated facilitation of implicit learning when the goal of achievement was primed. We propose that nonconscious goal pursuit can facilitate not only reproductive operations, but also productive ones, and that implicit learning is sensitive to the organism's nonconscious goals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The article is based on parts of the first author's dissertation, which was supported by a Golda Meir fellowship to the first author and by Israeli Science Foundation Grants 846/03 and 1035/07 to R.R.H. and Grant 371/04 to Y.S. We would like to thank Asher Cohen, Arthur S. Reber, and an anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments and suggestions.


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