The effect of subconscious performance goals on academic performance

T. Bipp, P.A.M. Kleingeld, H. van Mierlo, W. Kunde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
327 Downloads (Pure)


We investigated the impact of subconscious goals on academic performance in two field experiments. We show that unobtrusive priming of goals with regard to achievement motivation by means of a photograph improves performance in different educational contexts. High-school students who were exposed to an achievement-related photograph achieved higher grades than students in two control conditions. This effect was not affected by students’ prior performance. University students exposed to a photograph representing a specific, difficult goal reached even higher performance than students taking the exam with a general achievement photograph. For practice, subconscious goals may form a powerful, cost-effective tool to enhance academic performance. However, varying results across the experiments also prompt the need for further investigations of such effects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-485
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Academic performance
  • goal specificity
  • subconscious goals
  • supraliminal priming


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