The Effects of Past Behavior on Future Goal-Directed Activity

Robert S. Wyer, Alison Jing Xu, Hao Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Performing a cognitive or motor behavior in one situation can influence the likelihood of performing a conceptually similar behavior in a second, often unrelated situation. The effects can be mediated by a conscious decision about how to attain this objective or they can occur automatically without awareness of either the goal to which the behavior is relevant or even the behavior itself. These effects may be governed by different cognitive systems. A conceptualization of these systems and how they interface is used as a framework for understanding the effects of past behavior on information processing at several stages, including the attention to information, comprehension, evaluation, response generation, and decision making. Furthermore, the influence of motivation on goal-directed behavior is distinguished from the impact of procedural knowledge that is activated and applied as a consequence of this motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-283
Number of pages47
JournalAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jun 22 2012


  • Automaticity
  • Knowledge accessibility
  • Mind-set
  • Procedural knowledge
  • Productions


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