Subliminal Priming of Motivation Magnitude


Word primes have been successfully used in the past to facilitate the processing of other words (semantic priming), but also to modify mental states such as emotion, cognition and motivation (conceptual priming). This work documented that the direction of motivational drive can be successfully changed, but left open whether its magnitude can be influenced as well. To find out, we asked subjects to point at subliminally presented (30 ms) words that denoted low motivation (13 subjects) or high motivation (13 subjects). Afterwards, subjects completed a questionnaire of learning-specific motivation. No effect of priming was found for pointing parameters such as reaction time, but an effect emerged for self-assessed motivation level. The subject group primed with high-motivation words rated their motivation higher than the group primed with low-motivation words. The results indicate that not only the direction, but also the level of motivation can be manipulated subliminally, and supports the view that motivation can influence behavior without actor’s explicit knowledge.

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Steinberg, F. , Bock, O. & Dern, S. (2013). Subliminal Priming of Motivation Magnitude. Psychology, 4, 804-807. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.411115.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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