Confabulating reasons for behaving bad: The psychological consequences of unconsciously activated behaviour that violates one's standards
Version of Record online: 21 FEB 2014
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 44, Issue 3, pages 255–266, April 2014
How to Cite
Adriaanse, M. A., Weijers, J., De Ridder, D. T. D., De Witt Huberts, J. and Evers, C. (2014), Confabulating reasons for behaving bad: The psychological consequences of unconsciously activated behaviour that violates one's standards. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 44: 255–266. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2005
- Issue online: 10 APR 2014
- Version of Record online: 21 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 21 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 15 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 14 FEB 2013
- Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Grant Number: VENI-451-11-030
Numerous studies have been conducted to demonstrate that behaviours are frequently activated unconsciously. The present studies investigate the downstream psychological consequences of such unconscious behaviour activation, building on work on the explanatory vacuum and post-priming misattribution. It was hypothesized that unconsciously activated behaviours trigger a negative affective response if the behaviour violates a personal standard and that this negative affect subsequently motivates people to confabulate a reason for the behaviour. Results provided evidence for this mediated moderation model. Study 1 showed that participants who were primed to act less prosocially indeed reported increased levels of negative affect and, as a result, were inclined to confabulate a reason for their behaviour. Study 2 replicated these findings in the domain of eating and provided evidence for the moderating role of personal standards as well as the entire mediated moderation model. These findings have relevant theoretical implications as they add to the modest number of studies that demonstrate that the effect of unconscious priming may extend well beyond performing the primed behaviour itself to influence subsequent affect and attribution processes. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.