The Activation-Striving Model: When Will the Same Prime Lead to Goal Activation and When Will It Lead to Trait Activation?

Aner Sela, Stanford University
Baba Shiv, Stanford University
Goals and traits are two distinct types of mental representations that can be activated by environmental cues and have nonconscious effects on behavior. Although these constructs are known to have divergent behavioral consequences, the literature does not provide any prediction about when the same prime will lead to goal activation and when it will lead to trait activation. The present research develops the activation-striving model, according to which self-discrepant primes activate goals, leading to temporally-escalating behavioral effect, whereas self-consistent primes activate traits, leading to temporally-diminishing effects. These predictions are supported in two studies.
[ to cite ]:
Aner Sela and Baba Shiv (2008) ,"The Activation-Striving Model: When Will the Same Prime Lead to Goal Activation and When Will It Lead to Trait Activation?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 969-970.