Effects of Subliminal Priming on Nonconscious Goal Pursuit and Effort-related Cardiovascular Response

Abstract

Building on the work of Aarts and coworkers on nonconscious goal pursuit, the present study investigates whether subliminal processes may motivate effortful behavior and perseverance to learn coursework. We exposed students to a priming task in which subliminal representation of the goal of studying was directly paired (priming-positive group) or not (priming group) to a positive word. There was also a control group without subliminal prime of the goal. Next, students performed a learning task based on their coursework. Participants in the priming-positive group exhibited across time on task a larger decrease of midfrequency band of heart rate variability and a larger decrease of the pulse transit time related to effort mobilization than participants in the control group and the priming group, respectively. These fi ndings provide the fi rst evidence that subliminal priming can induce a greater cardiovascular reactivity suggesting effortful behavior and perseverance when pursuing a simple goal typical of daily life.

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