Unconscious persuasion needs goal-striving: the effect of goal activation on the persuasive power of subliminal feedback

Peter A.M. Ruijten, Cees J.H. Midden, Jaap Ham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A fundamental characteristic of ambient persuasive technology is the ability to persuade users outside of conscious attention. One method of influencing people outside of their conscious awareness is subliminal priming: Presenting a stimulus for less than 50 milliseconds so people can not consciously perceive it but they are able to process the information unconsciously. Earlier research has shown that subliminal feedback on energy consumption leads to more optimal choices in an energy-related choice task compared with no feedback. Would subliminal feedback always be effective in influencing people's choices, or do people need to be motivated to reach a specific goal for it to work? In the current research, we investigate if persuasion by subliminal feedback comprises a goal-striving related process in which people strive for a goal and use the subliminal information to reach that goal. In an experimental study, half of the participants were primed with the goal to perform well, and the other half was not primed with this goal. Next, half of the participants received subliminal feedback in a learning task, whereas the other half received no feedback. Results indicated that participants primed with a performance goal made more correct choices in the task when given the subliminal feedback compared with given no feedback. Participants who were not primed with a goal were not influenced by this feedback. This finding indicates the need for a behavior-relevant goal to make subliminal information effective, which in turn has important implications for research and design of ambient persuasive technology.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Persuasive Technology
Subtitle of host publication"Persuasive Technology and Design: Enhancing Sustainability and Health", PERSUASIVE 2011
Number of pages6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Event6th International Conference on Persuasive Technology: "Persuasive Technology and Design: Enhancing Sustainability and Health", PERSUASIVE 2011 - Columbus, OH, United States
Duration: 2 Jun 20115 Jun 2011

Conference

Conference6th International Conference on Persuasive Technology: "Persuasive Technology and Design: Enhancing Sustainability and Health", PERSUASIVE 2011
CountryUnited States
CityColumbus, OH
Period2/06/115/06/11

Keywords

  • Ambient persuasive technology
  • Goalstriving
  • Subliminal feedback

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