Oettingen, G., Grant, H., Smith, P. K., Skinner, M., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2006). Nonconscious goal pursuit: Acting in an explanatory vacuum. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 668-675.
Nonconsciously activated goals and consciously set goals produce the same outcomes by engaging similar psychological processes (Bargh, 1990; Gollwitzer & Bargh, 2005). However, nonconscious and conscious goal pursuit may have diVerent eVects on subsequent aVect if goal pursuit aVords an explanation, as nonconscious goal pursuit occurs in an explanatory vacuum (i.e. cannot be readily attributed to the respective goal intention). We compared self-reported aVect after nonconscious versus conscious goal pursuit that either violated or conformed to a prevailing social norm. When goal-directed behavior did not require an explanation (was norm-conforming), aVective experiences did not diVer after nonconscious and conscious goal pursuit. However, when goal-directed behavior required an explanation (was norm-violating), nonconscious goal pursuit induced more negative aVect than conscious goal pursuit.