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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Human behavior is directed at goals. Although goal pursuit is traditionally regarded as an endeavor that requires conscious awareness, experimental evidence in psychology suggests that human goal pursuit can originate and unfold in the unconscious. Accordingly, goal-directed behavior could be motivated outside conscious awareness in the current situation or environment. This chapter reviews past and current research examining the evidence for such unconscious motivation of goal-directed behavior. The review is organized around two themes. The first theme deals with research that analyzes goal pursuit as automated behaviors, thereby addressing the operational function of repetition for motivated processes in directing and controlling behavior in the absence of conscious awareness. The second theme concerns the quest of understanding the unconscious sources of human goal pursuit and includes a discussion of recent work on reward cueing, aimed at addressing the question of how reward signals in the environment can motivate behavior outside awareness.

Keywords: rewards, unconscious processes, motivation, regulation, priming

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