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On the Emergence of Human Goal Pursuit: The Nonconscious Regulation and Motivation of Goals



Experimental research in social psychology has discovered that human goal pursuit can emerge in the absence of conscious awareness. Whereas these goal-priming effects are commonly explained in terms of habitual automatic processes, recent studies shed new light on the matter. Building on this recent work, this paper attempts to promote a more comprehensive understanding and examination of the potential mechanisms that enable people to pursue their goals in a nonconscious fashion. Specifically, it addresses (i) the human capacity to pursue goals without awareness of the activation and operation of the goal, even when habits are inadequate; and (ii) the fundamental role of positive affect in nonconsciously modulating the motivation of goals and their pursuit.