Exploring the differences between conscious and unconscious goal pursuit

Juliano Laran, Chris Janiszewski, Anthony Salerno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


People can be aware (conscious) or unaware (unconscious) of an active goal when making a choice. Being aware of a goal enables people to use conscious strategies to identify attributes that are relevant to goal pursuit and to assess the efficacy of the attributes of each choice alternative. For most people, this process encourages the choice of the most goal-consistent alternative. For some people, this process encourages the consideration of trade-offs, activates a competing goal, and encourages the choice of a goal-inconsistent alternative. With unconscious goal pursuit, people cannot devote resources to assessing the efficacy of the attributes of each alternative; therefore, they match the accessible goal to the attributes of the available alternatives. As a result, the unconscious selects an alternative with attributes that are consistent with the goal and not necessarily the alternative that is most efficacious for the goal. The authors investigate these processes by manipulating the conscious system's ability to assess the efficacy of product attributes and the unconscious system's ability to match the accessible goal to product attributes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-458
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016



  • Accessibility
  • Choice
  • Conscious goal pursuit
  • Elaboration
  • Unconscious goal pursuit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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