To achieve or not to achieve? Comparative mindsets elicit assimilation and contrast in goal priming

Jan Crusius*, Thomas Mussweiler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Goal priming typically leads to goal-consistent behavior. This uniform pattern is surprising given other types of priming effects, which have been found to be more variable. On the basis of previous research on judgment priming effects, we predicted that a comparative mindset to focus on similarities versus differences also affects the direction of goal priming. Two studies show that assimilation to a primed goal results if participants focus on similarities, whereas a focus on differences leads to contrast. In Study 1, participants induced to focus on similarities behaved more neatly after being primed with neatness rather than the goal to be carefree. For participants induced to focus on differences, the opposite pattern emerged. In Study 2, a similarity focus led to assimilation to an achievement prime, whereas a difference focus resulted in contrast. These findings highlight the importance of comparative processes in goal striving and demonstrate that assimilative goal-priming effects are less invariable than existing research suggests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-788
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume42
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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