Bayer, U. C., Achtziger, A., Gollwitzer, P. M. & Moskowitz, G. (2009). Responding to subliminal cues: Do if-then plans cause action preparation and initiation without conscious intent? Social Cognition, 27, 183-201.
Forming implementation intentions (“If I encounter cue X, then I will perform behavior Y!”) is postulated to trigger action initiation without further conscious intent once the specified cue is encountered (Gollwitzer, 1999). In two experiments using an injustice paradigm or a categorization task, critical situations (specified in the if-component) were subliminally presented and it was tested whether these situations influenced the preparation (study 1) and initiation (study 2) of the planned goal-directed behavior (specified in the then-component). After the subliminal presentation of the critical situations, implementation intention participants showed stronger action preparation and a faster action initiation, as compared to control participants (study 1) who had not formed any goal intention at all, and compared to participants (studies 1 and 2) who had only formed goal intentions. These findings suggest that forming implementation intentions leads to automatic action initiation without further conscious intent.