Nonconscious goals can shape what people want to feel

Maya Tamir*, Brett Q. Ford, Erin Ryan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Goals can determine what people want to feel (e.g., Tamir et al., 2008), but can they do so even when they are primed outside of conscious awareness? In two studies, participants wanted to feel significantly less angry after they were implicitly primed with a collaboration goal, compared to a neutral prime. These effects were found with different implicit priming manipulations, direct and indirect measures of emotional preferences, and when controlling for concurrent emotional experiences. The effects were obtained in social contexts in which the potential for collaboration was relatively higher (Study 1) and lower (Study 2). Also, similar effects were found when collaboration was activated nonconsciously (Studies 1-2) and consciously (Study 2). By showing that nonconscious goals can shape emotional preferences, we demonstrate that what people want to feel can be determined by factors they are unaware of.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)292-297
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a National Science Foundation grant ( SES 0920918 ) to Maya Tamir. The authors wish to thank Dr. Ran R. Hassin for helpful comments on earlier drafts.


  • Anger
  • Automaticity
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotions
  • Motivation
  • Nonconscious goals


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