Nonconscious Nudges: Encouraging Sustained Goal Pursuit

Juliano Laran, Chris Janiszewski, Anthony Salerno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


A person can use a variety of strategies to sustain the pursuit of a conscious goal (e.g., deliberate on the goal, monitor goal progress, increase goal commitment). However, less is known about how to sustain the pursuit of a nonconscious goal, a reality that is reflected in the common finding that nonconscious goal pursuit typically persists for only one choice episode. This research investigates two factors that help sustain the pursuit of a nonconscious goal: increasing the level of goal activation prior to goal pursuit and limiting the extent of goal deactivation after a goal-consistent behavior. When one of these two factors is present, nonconscious goal pursuit is sustained, as evidenced by a longer sequence of goal-consistent choices. Five studies compare and contrast strategies for sustaining conscious and nonconscious goal pursuit and provide insight into how the goal system manages the pursuit of a nonconscious goal. In addition, the findings inform when a consumer is more or less likely to pursue opposing goals across sequential choices (e.g., being virtuous after being indulgent).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-329
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • conscious goal pursuit
  • consumer well-being
  • nonconscious goal pursuit
  • sequential choices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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