The Dynamic Effects of Subconscious Goal Pursuit on Resource Allocation, Task Performance, and Goal Abandonment
Sitzmann, Traci; Bell, Bradford S.
We test two potential boundary conditions for the effects of subconscious goals—the nature of the goal that is activated (achievement vs. underachievement) and conscious goal striving. Subconscious achievement goals increase the amount of time devoted to skill acquisition, and this increase in resource allocation leads to higher performance when conscious goals are neutral. However, specific conscious goals undermine the performance benefits of subconscious achievement goals. Subconscious underachievement goals cause individuals to abandon goal pursuit and this effect is mediated by task performance. Difficult conscious goals neutralize the detrimental effects of subconscious underachievement goals but only if implemented before performance is undermined. Overall, these results suggest that subconscious achievement goals facilitate task performance, subconscious underachievement goals trigger goal abandonment, and difficult conscious goals moderate these effects depending on the level of resource allocation and timing of goal implementation.
goal setting; subconscious goals; subconscious self-regulation; working memory capacity; resource allocation; goal abandonment
Required Publisher Statement: © Elsevier. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Final version published as: Sitzmann, T., & Bell, B. S. (2017). The dynamic effects of subconscious goal pursuit on resource allocation, task performance, and goal abandonment. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 138, 1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.11.001